Sport has become an insignificance at this time of crisis, and we must all unite to fight the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
That’s the stark message from Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, who last night also called on people to trust in the power of prayer as we enter a critical, unknown, and unprecedented phase of our existence.
Harte said the behaviour of the general public must respond appropriately to the expert advice being delivered on an hourly and daily basis in order to protect loved ones and the population at large.
“Sometimes we see sport as a matter of life and death in our own minds, but it never is,” he said.
“It’s hugely important to people, by all means, but this is a life-or-death issue, and we all have a part to play.
“We need to be selfless about this, and do it for the good of others, and in turn, we will benefit from it.
There’s something very serious happening here, and we need to take it very seriously.
“We’re getting this message day and daily about what we as good citizens need to be doing, and we can’t ignore that.”
And he encouraged people to utilise the extra time they have on their hands by devoting some of it to prayer.
“Maybe when we have more times on our hands now, we should make more time to pray as well, because I think that will have a big impact on how we can control the speed of the arrival of the worst of this virus.”
The carefree and irresponsible behaviour of some young people in congregating in large numbers in defiance of advice on social distancing remains a problem, but Harte feels other members of society need to heed the message as well.
“There’s a degree of normality about, in that young people feel they’re indestructible, that they can handle this, and they maybe haven’t taken the time to look at the bigger picture,” he said.
“But it’s not only younger people.
“I think other people, too, are actually not adhering to the strict regulations that are being put to us daily, that they can play a part in avoiding this surge.
We can’t stop this. All the medics, all the experts, will say this cannot be stopped, but it needs to be controlled, it needs to be limited, we all have a part to play in that and we need to take that responsibility very seriously.
Harte feels the experiences of countries who have suffered the worst ravages of the coronavirus can be drawn upon to minimise the effects of the anticipated surge here.
“We’re very fortunate in many ways in this part of the world that we have examples from China, examples from Italy, and examples from other countries in Europe of how devastating this can be.
“And we have the chance to be ahead of that, but that depends on every one of us, so it’s not just the frontline workers.
“Keep the frontline workers able to do their job (is crucial).
"And we can’t miss the fact either that we have a health service that was under pressure anyway, under normal circumstances, and that pressure is still going to be there.”