‘Stop it now’: Fears for season after Premier League reveals positive Covid-19 tests soar to record 40 as UK enters lockdown again
Worries have escalated after a string of fixtures were called off over the past week, including title contenders Manchester City's trip to Everton and two fixtures involving Fulham, who have suffered an outbreak of the virus.
A new strain of the virus has sent diagnosis figures soaring nationally, and British prime minister Boris Johnson announced a third lockdown on Monday in a new bid to contain the crisis and ease the pressure on hospitals.
Now the Premier League has announced that 28 players and staff out of 1,311 tested returned positive tests in the last four days of December.
Record 40 positives in the Premier League from 2,295 tests.Testing carried out from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3.Premier League adds that the 3 games cancelled in that time will be "rearranged as soon as possible."— Kathleen McNamee (@kathleen_mcn) January 5, 2021
Suspend football now for at least 3 weeks and extend the season. Otherwise, the integrity of the competition will suffer more if it hasn't already.— Barry Walker (@BlockFHatter) January 5, 2021
STOP it now!— Molts of Tarantula (@_Molts) January 5, 2021
A further 12 positive cases were also identified from 984 tests over the weekend that followed.
Despite the league insisting that it "continues to have confidence" in its protocols, stating that it was "fully backed" by the government and pledging to rearrange its postponed fixtures, fans were emphatically unconvinced.
"This is rather high," said a Liverpool fan account, attracting predictable jibes about the potential benefits to the reigning champions' injury-hit squad of an enforced break.
New Year’s Eve party’s coming to the fold now!!— lee beckett (@lee_beckett) January 5, 2021
Tbh I cant even believe it restarted— Phil Lindsay (@PhilPhenom) January 5, 2021
Others joked about the high-profile transgressions of guidelines that brought shame upon several players over the festive period, including a Christmas party involving three Tottenham players.
Players, staff and officials have been advised to shun hand-shaking and hugging as part of heightened precautions about the spread of infections, according to The Telegraph.
The Premier League said that it would not be naming any of the infected individuals, adding that they would self-isolate for the usual 10-day timeframe.Also on rt.com ‘It beggars belief’: Premier League stars blasted as ‘stupid and selfish’ for flouting Covid lockdown rules with Christmas party