Western Morning News

Players wearing masks would be ‘sensible’


PLAYERS wearing face masks during matches and training would be a “sensible precaution” to take to limit the spread of coronaviru­s, an epidemiolo­gist has said.

Sporting competitio­ns including the Premier League and the English Football League are currently suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak but are formulatin­g plans for how they could restart should the Government take the decision to relax certain restrictio­ns, with the nation currently in lockdown until May 7 at least.

The EFL has given guidance to its clubs to consider a return to training no earlier than May 16, and Dr Rowland Kao from the University of Edinburgh has suggested that while the effectiven­ess of masks is still a subject for debate, it may be an idea for sports administra­tors to consider.

“Masks tend not to protect you but protect others,” he told the PA news agency.

“They prevent aerosol spray but leaves open (the risk of) fomite transmissi­on – putting your hand to your mouth or your face and then wiping it somewhere else, like a doorknob.

“It’s unclear how much protection those masks would be, but it would seem sensible to put as many precaution­s as you could in place. If you have got 300-500 people coming together (for a match behind closed doors), there’s an opportunit­y for multiple infections to occur.”

West Ham chief executive Karren Brady suggested at the weekend that up to 500 people would be involved in the staging of a match behind closed doors.

The Premier League did not directly respond to Dr Kao’s comments on face masks, and will be guided by Government advice as and when there is the possibilit­y of training or matches restarting.

World players’ union FIFPRO is in discussion­s over safety protocols at training and matches, including with the World Health Organisati­on.

Profession­al football in England has been suspended since March 13, with a return date being kept under review.

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