The Premier League has announced 42 new positive coronavirus cases among club players and staff, the highest weekly figure recorded since the release of testing results began in May last year.
A Covid-19 outbreak has led to Tottenham’s last two games being called off, while Manchester United’s scheduled trip to Brentford tonight was postponed late on Monday night due to a number of positive tests in the United squad.
“The league can today confirm that between Monday, 6 December and Sunday, 12 December, 3,805 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19. Of these, there were 42 new positive cases,” the Premier League said in a statement.
Twelve cases were reported last week, but several other clubs – including Norwich and Aston Villa – have since announced a number of positive tests as concerns heighten nationally amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
Norwich manager Dean Smith has urged all fans to get their Covid booster jabs so they can keep attending football matches
The Premier League wrote to all of its clubs last Thursday instructing them to reinstate Covid-19 emergency measures.
Top-flight clubs that had reached a vaccination rate of 85 per cent had been allowed to relax restrictions which were imposed in the summer, but those that had done so were told they must return to the stricter measures.
The league’s statement added: “The safety of everybody is a priority and the Premier League is taking all precautionary steps in light of the recent rise in Covid-19 cases across the country.
“The league has reverted to its emergency measures and will increase the frequency of both lateral flow and PCR Covid-19 testing of players and staff.
“The Premier League’s Covid-19 emergency measures, which are applicable to all clubs, include protocols such as wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time. These are in addition to the more frequent testing.
“We will continue to work closely with the government, local authorities and supporter groups, while being responsive to any future changes to national or local guidance.”
This week’s significant spike eclipses the previous highest weekly figure of positive tests – 40 cases were recorded at the start of January following two rounds of testing.
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber is concerned rising cases of Covid-19 could lead to the return of empty stadiums at Premier League grounds
Villa cancel recovery session after player tests positive
Aston Villa also have had one positive Covid-19 case in their playing squad, leading to a recovery session at the club’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on Sunday being cancelled.
Full training at Villa, who lost 1-0 at Liverpool on Saturday, is expected to resume on Monday.
Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard says two players and two members of staff have tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League game against Norwich.
Further testing is to take place, while the club will also tighten their coronavirus protocols.
Villa face Norwich, managed by their former boss Dean Smith, at Carrow Road in the Premier League on Tuesday.
The government announced earlier this week fans will need to show proof of double vaccination or a negative test to attend sporting events with crowds of more than 10,000 people in England.
The rules are due to come into effect from December 15 as part of Covid ‘plan B’ measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
Brighton also hit by Covid cases
Brighton manager Graham Potter has revealed there are “three or four” positive tests among his playing squad, but their match with Wolves on Wednesday is not currently under threat.
Brighton boss Graham Potter says ‘two or three’ players are already out of the Premier League game against Wolves after testing positive for Covid-19.
“We’ve got a combination of injuries and a bit of Covid ourselves,” said Potter.
“We’ve got three or four, I would say, at the moment. And obviously that’s something we have to deal with, like everybody else.
“Now we’re just checking and making sure it’s at that number.”
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola has urged all his players and staff to get their Covid-19 booster vaccination as soon as they become eligible.
He said: “Absolutely. The doctors suggest that they have to do it. Most of us have (had) it already.
“The players, for their age, the moment they have to do it, everybody is going to decide and they are going to do it.”