Clubs hit by Covid-19 spike af­ter hol­i­days

Premier League re­ports 14 cases on re­turn to train­ing Southamp­ton player among those test­ing pos­i­tive at 12 sides

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Ex­clu­sive By Ja­son Burt, Mike McGrath and Sam Wal­lace

There has been a spike in pos­i­tive coron­avirus tests since Premier League play­ers re­turned to train­ing last week­end, with 14 cases recorded at 12 clubs.

It emerged last night that one of the cases is at Southamp­ton, where a first-team player has tested pos­i­tive for Covid-19 fol­low­ing his re­turn from a sum­mer hol­i­day.

The fig­ures are un­of­fi­cial – the Premier League is ex­pected to con­tinue reg­u­larly pub­lish­ing test re­sults only un­til the sea­son re­sumes on Sept 12 – but have raised con­cerns among the clubs.

A par­tic­u­lar worry is whether play­ers from dif­fer­ent clubs have been mix­ing to­gether on hol­i­day – it ap­pears some have been shar­ing and vis­it­ing each other’s vil­las – with many hav­ing flocked to south­ern Europe dur­ing their time off. It could lead to more pos­i­tive tests.

Most clubs have re­sumed train­ing this week, with test­ing tak­ing place from last Satur­day.

The num­ber of cases – it is un­clear how many are play­ers but they are un­der­stood to be among those who have tested pos­i­tive – is dis­pro­por­tion­ately high. It is also un­der­stood that not all cases have been asymp­to­matic.

To put it in con­text, the Premier League recorded only 30 pos­i­tive cases from around 35,000 tests car­ried out be­tween when foot­ball re­sumed and the end of the sea­son, as the play­ers and staff fol­lowed the strict guide­lines.

It has al­ready been re­vealed that a mem­ber of Liver­pool’s trav­el­ling party to their pre-sea­son train­ing camp in Aus­tria tested pos­i­tive. The club have not said whether the af­fected per­son is a player be­cause of med­i­cal con­fi­den­tial­ity.

All mem­bers of Liver­pool’s group were tested be­fore trav­el­ling and again on their ar­rival. Test­ing has been con­tin­u­ing through­out the camp and no one trained with­out first record­ing two neg­a­tive tests.

The Southamp­ton player, whom

The Daily Tele­graph is choos­ing not to name, was asymp­to­matic upon ar­rival in the UK but a test showed he had coron­avirus. Southamp­ton have not com­mented. It is un­der­stood play­ers will have their first club test­ing ses­sion of pre-sea­son to­day.

As with the other pos­i­tive cases the pro­to­cols dic­tate that the per­son has to self-iso­late for at least seven days.

Liver­pool shifted their camp from France to Aus­tria af­ter travel re­stric­tions were put in place, while some clubs, such as Le­ices­ter City, have de­cided they will carry out all their prepa­ra­tions at home.

All Premier League clubs will be tested in the next few days, and as there are still more than three weeks be­fore the sea­son re­sumes the pos­i­tive tests are not ex­pected to dis­rupt prepa­ra­tions for the cam­paign, which will be­gin be­hind closed doors. How­ever it is a warn­ing to the play­ers and staff that they have to be care­ful and will con­tinue with the strict pro­to­cols that were in place for the end of last sea­son.

The Premier League is ex­pected to test play­ers once a week when the sea­son is un­der way – rather than twice a week as last sea­son – and still use a sys­tem of clin­i­cal pass­ports to show they are clear.

There was al­ways an ac­cep­tance that with play­ers and staff go­ing on hol­i­day af­ter the end of the pro­longed cam­paign there could be an in­crease in the num­ber of cases. An added com­pli­ca­tion was the need to rush back from France be­fore trav­ellers would have to quar­an­tine for 14 days on their re­turn.

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