Ipswich Town claim seven staff test positive for new Covid-19 strain

Ipswich Town claim seven staff test positive for new Covid-19 strain

League One football club Ipswich Town claim five players and two management staff have tested positive for new coronavirus strain as they are forced to postpone next two matches

  • Ipswich Town are expecting further positive tests tomorrow with seven already 
  • Club insists ‘football circuit breaker’ is needed after postponing next two games
  • Physio says speed of transmission and data confirm cases are new strain of virus
  • Mutation detected mainly in South East England has sparked concern worldwide

A Football League club today claimed the new coronavirus strain is behind a squad outbreak that has seen two members of management and five players test positive.

Ipswich Town are expecting further positive tests tomorrow and have insisted a ‘football circuit breaker’ is needed after having to postpone their next two matches.

The League One team revealed general manager Lee O’Neill has now tested positive, joining boss Paul Lambert and five players who were already in self-isolation.

The club’s physio Matt Byard said the speed of the transmission and the ‘data and symptom profile’ confirmed the cases at the club were the new strain of the virus.

The mutation has been detected mainly in London and South East England and has sparked concern worldwide because of signs that it may spread more easily. 

Ipswich Town players celebrate scoring a goal against Burton Albion on Tuesday last week

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert stands on the touchline at Portman Road on December 12

While there is no indication it causes more serious illness, dozens of countries in Europe and beyond have restricted travel from Britain as a result of the outbreak. 

Ipswich, who are based in a Tier Two area, have previously returned only two positive tests during the pandemic, to player Kayden Jackson and coach Matt Gill.

Newcastle stars Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin suffer from long Covid and are struggling to WALK

Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin have suffered from ‘long-term Covid’ following the club’s mass outbreak.

Newcastle players Jamaal Lascelles (left) and Allan Saint-Maximin (right) last month

Speaking last Friday about the players before they were named, manager Steve Bruce said: ‘My thoughts are with the two players, and the welfare of them. 

‘It’s frightening when you think they are young and fit and absolutely supreme athletes. If anybody needs reminding of how serious this is, then we have witnessed it.

‘We’ve had vomiting, sores, mouth ulcers, no smell, no taste, but the big thing, and which is worrying, is the welfare of one or two of them. It’s not great at all.

‘That long-term Covid is something which you wouldn’t think possible in young, fit athletes. Unfortunately, it is so.

‘They go for a walk for half an hour and then they want to go back to bed.. It’s as brutal as that.’

Mr Byard said today: ‘This new strain of the virus clearly transmits far quicker than the original Covid strain and we have the data and symptom profile that confirms that is what we are dealing with here.

‘We have tested all the playing and coaching staff and from the results, we can detect the level of infection and see the patterns emerging, however it’s the speed of the transmission that tells us it’s the new strain.

Fellow League One sides Peterborough and Sunderland have also called off games due to Covid-19 outbreaks, while Millwall in the Championship have done the same.

Mr Byard said previous cases at clubs have mostly be put down to a coach journey or indoor meeting, but Ipswich have followed Covid-19 stringent procedures.

He said the players all arrive for training in their kit before going straight home, with no showers or canteen in use where they would eat communally.

Mr Byard added: ‘I know the EFL are looking at bringing in extra measures, with maybe more testing for example. I have always supported routine testing to secure a return to playing programme.

‘Personally, with so many clubs affected by this presently and this new strain development, football may benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’ before a return to playing securely.’

Ipswich, who are sixth in the table after 18 games, have postponed games against Northampton Town this Saturday followed by a trip to AFC Wimbledon in South West London on December 29.

English Football League and Government guidance states everyone who tested positive must go into isolation for ten days, before a decision is made whether their next scheduled game at Fleetwood Town will be played on January 2. 

Ipswich’s training ground has been closed and players and staff told to stay away from the club. 

Mr Byard continued: ‘We have only had two cases here in nine months (Kayden Jackson and Matt Gill) so to get seven in one week is alarming. 

‘I have looked at every avenue and the only scenario for transmission has to be our match against Burton last week and because it seems to have been passed on in a matchday environment, it is confirmation of a new development. 

The club’s physio Matt Byard (pictured) said the speed of the transmission and the ‘data and symptom profile’ confirmed the cases at the club were the new strain of the virus

Ipswich Town’s Portman Road stadium is pictured during a match against Hull City last month

‘We still have stringent protocols in place in terms of use of the dressing-rooms, I might add.

‘We are doing things the right way. We always have done. Players and staff deserve a great deal of credit as they adhere routinely to the guidelines and the new way of operating. This has been thoroughly supported by senior staff and executives.

‘It would have been very easy to allow players and staff to change in the building and have showers, especially given the change in weather. 

‘Our adherence to guidelines is still likely to have reduced potential transmission risk, even under these circumstances.’

Earlier this month Aston Villa v Newcastle United became the first Premier League match to be postponed because of Covid cases after an outbreak at Newcastle.

Two Magpies players, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles, were said to have suffered ‘damaging effects’ of the virus and were ‘struggling for a while with it’.

It comes amid fears England could be on course for a New Year lockdown amid warnings the mutant Covid strain has spread to the entire country.

The new strain, which is thought to spread up to 70 per cent more easily, is already known to be present around the country and in various European nations.

Meanwhile it has emerged that Premier League clubs in Tier Four areas are to revert to twice-weekly Covid testing.

In what has been described as ‘an additional precaution’ sides in the highest level of restrictions will now be subject to tests every 72 hours.

 

The move is likely to be rolled out across all top flight sides following the Christmas period, amid a rise in the number of positive cases and the arrival of the new strain.

Currently, clubs were being tested once a week by a company operating on behalf of the league. Some such as Newcastle had opted to pay for extra tests themselves. 

Those in Europe were also tested before their matches in the Champions League and Europa League. The decision takes clubs back to the position brought in for Project Restart. Tests were reduced to once a week at the start of this season.

Talks have been ongoing for some time and were accelerated after the Prime Minister’s decision to introduce Tier 4, which affects London and the south east and which could soon be rolled out elsewhere. 

This week the Premier League announced that seven players and staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest round of testing. 

‘To get seven cases in one week is alarming’: Full statement from Ipswich Town physio Matt Byard 

‘In previous cases at clubs, the confirmatory source can normally be isolated down to a coach journey or a lengthy meeting indoors. We however, have had the same protocols in place since we started pre-season training

 ‘The players are still arriving to training in kit, training and then going straight home. No showers are in use, no canteen where they eat communally. If you consider a staged return to normal behaviour at the training ground in five phases, then we are at the beginning of phase two.

‘We have only had two cases here in nine months [Kayden Jackson and Matt Gill] so to get seven in one week is alarming.

‘I have looked at every avenue and the only scenario for transmission has to be our match against Burton last week and because it seems to have been passed on in a matchday environment, it is confirmation of a new development. We still have stringent protocols in place in terms of use of the dressing-rooms, I might add.

‘We are doing things the right way. We always have done. Players and staff deserve a great deal of credit as they adhere routinely to the guidelines and the new way of operating. This has been thoroughly supported by senior staff and executives. It would have been very easy to allow players and staff to change in the building and have showers, especially given the change in weather. Our adherence to guidelines is still likely to have reduced potential transmission risk, even under these circumstances.

‘This new strain of the virus clearly transmits far quicker than the original Covid strain and we have the data and symptom profile that confirms that is what we are dealing with here.

‘We have tested all the playing and coaching staff and from the results, we can detect the level of infection and see the patterns emerging, however it’s the speed of the transmission that tells us it’s the new strain.

‘We will be re-testing all the staff on Wednesday who have previously tested negative and I do have concerns that there will be more positive cases. It’s important to recognise the timing of testing is absolutely crucial in determining the diagnosis. A wrongly timed test can very likely produce a false result. We have to very closely determine potential transmission risks and consider the period of incubation before becoming infectious.

‘We have been complimented by the EFL for the procedures we have had in place at the training ground and on matchday – and that is one of the reasons they have become very concerned over the latest developments.

‘I know the EFL are looking at bringing in extra measures, with maybe more testing for example. I have always supported routine testing to secure a return to playing programme. Personally, with so many clubs affected by this presently and this new strain development, football may benefit from a ‘circuit breaker’ before a return to playing securely.’

Source: Read Full Article