Belarus ignored the coronavirus pandemic that hit Europe and, despite warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO), did not interrupt the football championship at any time.
Moreover, the country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, described the coronavirus crisis as a “psychosis” and urged the population to “treat themselves with vodka.”
The Minsk leader insisted that panic is more dangerous than COVID-19, that closing borders is “stupid” and urged citizens to go to work.
Unfortunately, the lack of preventive measures shows its effects. Thus, two players and two coaches from the Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino club, which is on the second place in the first league, were positively detected with the new coronavirus, according to the Minsk press.
Goalkeeper Vladimir Bush and midfielder Mikhail Afanasyev fell ill with COVID-19, and the head coach described the situation as “a war”, because his team must win without losing any more players.
Sergei Zenevic, one of the second coaches, was also infected and is in poor condition at the hospital, according to Belarusian journalists.
In addition, two other footballers from the team in the city of Zhodino, located 50 kilometers from the capital, are suspected of coronavirus: midfielder Andrejs Hčaturjan and defender Maksims Bordačovs.
Without all these players, Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino played on Thursday night, May 21, away with Neman Grodno and lost, score 1-3. Despite the defeat, the group from Zhodino remains in second place, with 18 points accumulated in the first ten stages.
One week ago, the Minsk Federation canceled two games, scheduled for May 15 and 16, on suspicion that several players were suffering from COVID-19.
As of May 22, 34,303 coronavirus infections had been reported in Belarus, 932 in the last 24 hours alone. 190 people have died from the virus, and experts warn that things could deteriorate, mainly due to the fact that the authorities defied the pandemic.