Countries around the world are asking citizens to stay home to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading further. This has ensured that almost all sporting events have been cancelled. Football fans in Belarus however, do not have to miss out on the matches of their favourite teams. President Alexander Lukashenko has taken the call not to put the country under lockdown. He claims that vodka and sauna sessions are enough to ward off the virus.

On Sunday, crowds gathered at stadiums to watch Belarusian Premier League matches. Most of the matches saw fans ignoring social distancing rules. Some stadiums did, however, check the temperature of the spectators before allowing them in. A small minority of fans were seen wearing masks in the crowd. The country continued to enjoy the league matches despite the real threat of a global pandemic.

The continuation of the matches display how Lukashenko is choosing to manage the fear of the pandemic in the country. While Belarus has yet to see a COVID-19 death, there have been over 150 patients who have tested positive.

Not only had the president refused to cancel events, he continued to take part in an ice hockey match on Saturday. Sky News reported Lukashenko's statement that sports are the best remedy for the virus. With footballers like Paulo Dybala infected with the virus, and healthy individuals succumbing to COVID-19, fitness may not ensure protection against the virus.

Passing statements like: "It's better to die standing on your feet than to live on your knees," Lukashenko questioned the presence of the virus. He rhetorically asked reporters if they could see the virus flying around. Lukashenko continued to downplay the need for preventive measures to be put in place in Belarus at the moment.

Encouraging Belarusians to continue with their daily routines normally, Lukashenko suggested that they drink 50ml of vodka. It has become a popular belief that drinking alcohol can help the body fight the novel coronavirus. However, there is no scientific proof to support the quack remedy.

Other advice given to the public by the leader includes going to saunas, working in the fields, and eating breakfast on time. Lukashenko even confirmed that Victory Day on May 9 will be celebrated where Second World War veterans will be paraded through the roads.

Alexander Lukashenko
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko continues to downplay the threat of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Reuters