Thursday, January 27, 2022

Premier League COVID-19 positives surge to new high – but show must go on

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Dec 2021

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The Premier League revealed there were 90 new positive COVID-19 cases among players and club staff last week – more than double the previous seven-day high.

With a spike in infections causing six of the past weekend’s games to be called off and a number of clubs to close training grounds, such figures were anticipated.

The previous weekly peak had been 42 positives, which was the figure announced last Monday for the previous seven days.

As the new figures emerged, it was disclosed that 16 per cent of players in the league have not yet had a first vaccination during the pandemic.

The Premier League said a record 12,345 COVID-19 tests were carried out from Monday, December 13 to Sunday, December 19, resulting in a clear picture of how widely the impact of the coronavirus is being felt.

The league said, in a statement issued on its website, that players and staff were undergoing daily lateral flow tests and twice-weekly PCR testing as part of emergency steps to deal with the crisis.

The news of the number of positive cases came on the day the Premier League elected to plough on with fixtures rather than choose a ‘circuit-breaker’ spell of no games for a short period in the hope of driving down infections.

Two more rounds of games are scheduled before the end of December; it had been rumoured the games from December 28-30 would be postponed to ease pressure on already stretched squads.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Sunday it would be “impossible” for his team to play all their scheduled games in the coming days, as the virus and illnesses limit his options.

Klopp was without his first-choice midfield trio and key defender Virgil van Dijk for Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Tottenham. As well as league games, his team have an EFL Cup quarter-final against Leicester City on Wednesday. They then face Leeds United at Anfield on December 26 before tackling Leicester again, this time in the league, two days later.

The Premier League said it was liaising with government and local authorities, along with supporter groups.

The first signs of supporters staying away from games have been observed, with just 45,421 present for the Tottenham-Liverpool game, around 15,000 down on capacity.

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