By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) An extension of the lockdown is the only way India can reduce the threat of COVID-19, said Indian Super League (ISL) winning coach Antonio Habas. The ATK head coach has witnessed Spain, one of the worst affected countries, slowly get a grip on the pandemic by staying at home and following protocol.
Asked how a day is like for him now with no football on television too, the former Valencia coach spoke about not only helping his wife in daily chores, but also he has been in constant touch with ISL club ATK to scout fresh talent with an eye on the next season.
“The days are quite routine. I read. I am constantly in touch with my children living outside of Madrid and helping my wife in the work of the house,” he told IANS.
“I keep daily contact with ATK management to build a team of the 2020-21 season. I have two hours every day to see new players and previous parties from ISL.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced an extension of the current nationwide lockdown till May 3, claiming social distancing is the only way to pass the “agni pariksha”.
Spain eased its economic restrictions on Monday allowing thousands of workers to return to their posts amid a debate between politicians, unions and scientists over the risk of a coronavirus rebound.
“It’s absolutely necessary to listen to whatever the government says at this time. In Spain, the state of national alarm has already been extended,” Habas said from Madrid where around 300,000 nonessential workers returned to their jobs on Monday as the country began a partial lifting of lockdown restrictions.
Spain, which has seen more than 169,000 confirmed cases — the highest in Europe — has reported a falling death rate and a daily growth in new cases of about 3 percent, compared to 20 percent in mid-March.
“We have had lockdown extensions in Spain and that has helped a lot,” he said.
Modi also said that the cities and districts across the country will be monitored and tested till April 20 and if the country passes the litmus test in cutting the transmission of COVID-19 then some important activities will be permitted.
Citing Spain’s example, Habas said lockdown violators needs to be punished heavily and only an aggressive approach can serve the purpose.
“In Spain the government is very rigorous and disciplined with this, imposing sanctions between 500 and 30,000 Euros depending on the severity of each case. Today, they have started working a certain group of professions,” said the Spaniard who helped city-based ISL ATK clinch their record third title last month.
Habas also became the first head coach to win the ISL trophy twice, having led the Kolkata-based side to the title in the inaugural season back in 2014 during his first stint with the club.
“Increasing confinement time has helped Spain immensely in tackling of the epidemic. It is a matter of logic, less relationships and contacts between people the less the spread of the contagion,” said Habas who lives with his wife in Madrid.
“Masks and gloves are now mandatory, especially when buying necessary items from departmental stores,” he added.
Habas was in mandatory quarantine period after returning to Madrid from Goa where he oversaw ATK beat Chennaiyin FC 3-1 to win their record third crown.