Under new measures approved on Tuesday to battle the coronavirus Omicron variant, Premier League players and club personnel would be required to complete a lateral flow test every day to get access to training grounds. The goal of the effort is to reduce the rising number of positive Covid cases.
The Premier League acknowledged on Monday that the preceding seven days had seen a record 42 positives. It’s the greatest number since Covid testing began during the 2019-20 season as part of Project Restart.
Previously, the week with the highest positive tests this season was August 16-22, when 3,060 samples were returned. Two league games have been postponed in the space of three days due to outbreaks at Tottenham and Manchester United, while Brighton, Leicester, Aston Villa, and Norwich have all confirmed cases.
In addition to the daily tests required to get access to the training grounds, players and staff will now be subjected to a PCR test at least twice a week, as was the situation last season until the lateral flow tests were implemented in the summer. The steps are expected to be adopted rapidly in order to halt the spread of the new Omicron strain. Additional masking, reducing the amount of time spent receiving physical treatment, and social separation are all recommended to lessen the chance of new instances.
With the season about to enter the hectic holiday schedule, teams will want to avoid postponements that might result in a fixture backlog and potentially expose the league to requests for reimbursements from media partners, which were due when the 2019-20 season was halted at the start of the epidemic.
However, West Ham manager David Moyes believes the schedule is “playing a part” in transmission, adding: “Players are getting very little time to recover and when you are run down, you are more likely to get the virus.
“What we are putting the players through at the moment… that is showing with the number of players who are catching the virus.”
And after losing four players to coronavirus concerns before a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa on Tuesday, Norwich manager Dean Smith said there should be a “magic number” for the threshold of cases in order for a fixture to be called off.
Source: BBC Sport