The Government has now escalated planning and preparation in case of a more widespread outbreak of COVID-19, coronavirus, as a result of an increase in the number of cases diagnosed in the UK and of what its modelling of the spread of the virus suggests. For this reason the government has increased the risk level from low to moderate. It is a fact that the virus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems and those with long term conditions, particularly those who have, or are susceptible to respiratory conditions.
Those who play our sport all have different levels of functionality and depending on an individual’s particular condition, they may or may not be more vulnerable to complications were they to become infected with the virus. As we are all aware, many of those who play wheelchair rugby have a spinal cord injury and whilst such individuals are at NO greater risk of contracting coronavirus than the general public, they are in a high risk category in relation to the impact the virus might have were they to become infected, because they may have a reduced immune system and be more susceptible to respiratory issues.
As a sport we naturally focus on hygiene and infection prevention but we should still be aware of and rigorously follow the advice published by NHS England/Health England about how we can minimise the risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. I understand that some of these measures are still a real challenge for our community. Wheelchairs still have to travel over many different surfaces, and hands, whether gloved or not are in constant contact with wheels.
In view of the increased spread of the virus I have decided to postpone our planned activities and tournaments between now and the end of May. In effect this means the postponement of:
- Talent Camp, 14-15 March
- Super Series 3 D1, 21-22 March
- RMA Sport National Championships, 18-19 April
- WR5s Weekend 1, 9-10 May
We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks with a view to assessing whether it may be necessary to extend the period of postponement beyond May, and also whether the opportunity presents itself to reschedule some or all of the activities before the start of the new season.
I realise that this news may not be welcome and there will be some who feel that these events should still go ahead. I am the first to recognise that this is a finely balanced judgement but our main consideration has to be our commitment to the welfare of everyone who plays and supports our game; if this action reduces the risk of just one person from becoming infected and developing a serious condition then it will have been the right thing to do. Clubs will rightly make their own decisions about whether they wish to continue with their club training sessions. Should they decide to do so then I would again stress that they should take additional precautions to ensure that all advice in respect of preventative measures to avoid infection is followed.
Those with a spinal cord injury may also wish to access the Spinal Injuries Association website: https://www.spinal.co.uk/news/coronavirus-and-spinal-cord-injury/ which is providing regular updates and advice.
Thank you for your understanding.