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Berlin/Xinhua/UNI: From this Saturday, Borussia Dortmund's stadium, the biggest in Germany, will house a COVID-19 testing center.
Rooms in the Westfalenstadion's north stand have been prepared to take in people suspected of suffering from COVID-19. It is hoped the center will relieve pressure on the medical facilities in the city of Dortmund.
As with many other European football leagues, the 2019/20 Bundesliga season has been suspended. It is uncertain when the league will return to regular action.
Dortmund's first team players have started training in groups of two - in order to meet Germany's rules on social distancing - at the club's center in the suburb of Brackel, several miles away from the stadium.
Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said the club is happy to help and was pleased to commit. Local health authorities confirmed the club made an offer to set up the testing facilities in the stadium and provide parking space outside.
"It might be a strange thought at first to do testing in a football arena, but the offer is of great value," a local health authority spokesman said.
Watzke called the Westfalenstadion a city flagship. "It's a fixed point in the city and the surrounding region for many people - and it's the perfect place for help for people suffering from coronavirus-related symptoms," the 61-year old said.
Watzke added that it is the club's obligation and intention to do everything possible to help affected people and speed up the nation's recovery.
Local health authorities said Borussia's stadium is ideal because its spaciousness allows a minimizing of contact between medical staff and patients.
As in most German cities, doctors have complained of a lack of protection for their staff due to a large number of suspected cases. Dortmund's health authorities have pointed out that the football stadium won't be used for the treatment of confirmed cases.
Daily opening hours are secured, the club said. Influenza medication and sick notes can be issued to those who tested negative but suffer from coronavirus-like symptoms.
In addition to Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund has committed to providing 20 million euros to struggling Bundesliga clubs.
German international Marco Reus has started an initiative to support local enterprises. The Dortmund striker has personally donated 500,000 euros.
The club's squad, including coaches, has accepted wage cuts to support non-playing staff.
Image: Wikimedia Commons