COVID19: Virus-stricken football club did not follow protocol

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Cyprus’ Health Ministry said it was informed Tuesday of another eight COVID-19 cases among footballers and staff at top-flight club Nea Salamina, adding to the 11 announced over the weekend.

In a statement, the Ministry said the eight club members were found positive after being privately tested in violation of government quarantine regulations.

Nea Salamina had announced the eight new cases on Monday, with the Ministry claiming it was not aware of the development, as it had not received official confirmation from the lab involved.

Six out of the eight found positive were listed as close contacts of already known cases and should have been tested through the ministry’s track and trace program and not done privately.

“A process for them to be tested had already been launched while they were instructed to self-isolate until tested,” said the Health Ministry.

The ministry argued that despite receiving clear instructions, the club violated protocols “endangering public health at a critical juncture of handling the pandemic”.

“On its own initiative, the club instructed players and other personnel to undergo laboratory testing at a private laboratory, violating their quarantine regulations”.

The news of eight more cases comes after 11 players and staff members tested positive which prompted the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) to postpone Monday’s game between Nea Salamina and Doxa FC.

Another two matches are expected to be postponed, as the whole team will need to remain in quarantine for at least 14 days.

They will be allowed to return to training only after players test negative two times.

Salamina was to play Ermis this weekend, and Pafos FC next week.

According to CFA protocol, a match has to be postponed if a minimum of four players on the same team test positive for Covid-19 within a period of seven days.

Players and staff found negative will be allowed to return but training will be held behind closed doors for at least seven days. After seven days, the entire club will undergo a second test.

Salamina’s patient zero is player Chico Banza who arrived from Angola on September 14 through Portugal and Austria. He tested positive after testing negative twice, according to the club.

Upon being found positive on September 18, the club had all its players and staff tested, 59 people in total, as the player had already had contact with his teammates.

According to the club, all the tests came back negative on the same day.

However, doctors recommended that 15 out of the 59 tests conducted had to be repeated on Saturday, which identified that 10 players had contracted the virus.

The other eight were found on Sunday, according to an announcement issued by the club on Monday.