Persons exercise outside the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, yesterday.

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The government will remain firm on its ban against outdoor physical activities under the current state of emergency to hamper the spread of COVID-19.

During the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 update yesterday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said that while he understands the importance of exercise, the government is trying to manage a culture in which people seek ingenious ways to find exceptions.

“Unfortunately, in this circumstance, running, walking, hiking, exercising all had to be managed with one blanket approval,” Al-Rawi said.

He said people could exercise in their homes.

Senior general physician Dr Maniram Ramoutar does not support the recommendation of a ban on exercising, noting that it was more difficult for COVID-19 to spread outdoors.

He said if people wear masks and stay apart, together with a government system in place, it could work.

Ramoutar added that this was especially important for people with chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes and those with a family history of ailments.

Last September, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram noted that COVID-19 deaths were significantly higher among people with comorbidities. The WHO also reported this finding.

Ramoutar said he counselled patients with high blood pressure and high blood sugar about diet and exercise and today, they are not using any medication.

“It clearly shows diet and exercise, from my experience, help at least 60 to 80 per cent in the management of diabetes and high blood pressure,” Maniram said.

He said exercise becomes even more crucial after age 50 as blood circulation begins to slow, resulting in swelling. He stresses slow walks.

“The gym is good for the younger people, but the environment outside; the parks and the savannahs are very good for the elderly. Also, the environment, the fresh air, especially the early morning walk or the evening walk is a very important part of the lifestyle of the elderly.”

Ramoutar said that as citizens, we put ourselves in an unfortunate position regarding the pandemic.

However, he does not believe the government should penalise everyone for the mistakes of some people.

Al-Rawi told the media yesterday that without the regulation, people might rush to popular areas to exercise at a time when the medical advice is for people to stay home.

“Do not be surprised when one observes a mad rush of individuals, not in groups of five, all congregating in areas such as Chaguaramas, Lady Chancellor Hill, Palmiste Park, the San Fernando areas that we enjoy, our steps etc.

“One has to be conscious that it is the congregating of people that we are managing and therefore, the advice that came to the government and which was accepted and introduced into the regulations, the expert medical advice was that we had to reduce circulation.”