Premier League coronavirus testing: How often, how much and what happens when a player tests positive?

The initial round of testing was encouraging for the top flight in England and in line with other major European leagues resolving to complete the 2019-20 season

Melissa Reddy
Senior Football Correspondent
Wednesday 20 May 2020 10:15 BST
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

The Premier League’s first round of coronavirus testing resulted in six positive cases across three clubs after a total of 748 players and staff were swabbed.

That lowly figure, representing just 0.8% of the group, is encouraging and in line with other major European leagues resolving to finish the 2019-20 season.

Germany’s top two divisions returned 10 positive results during their initial phase of testing, while Spain reported half of that for their premier tiers.

There was no expectation from any of the leagues that there would be zero Covid-19 cases detected at the start of the process and, if anything, the findings are helpful in creating the safest environment possible.

“It's not a setback. It was always clear it could happen,” the Bundesliga’s chief executive Christian Seifert said of positive results, which didn’t hamper Germany's top flight becoming the first major league to resume amid the global pandemic last weekend.

“One of the objectives of these tests was to detect asymptomatic cases,” a statement from La Liga explained. “That way we guarantee everyone’s safety as we return to work and comply with rules on workplace safety.”

Burnley disclosed on Tuesday that their assistant manager Ian Woan was one of the six individuals to test positive and he was asymptomatic along with one player and two members of staff at Watford.

The Premier League are confident their measures to detect and contain the virus are robust as they enforce biosecure conditions to phase in Project Restart.

What’s the deal with the tests?

The Premier League invested £4million to acquire coronavirus testing kits as part of wide-ranging health protocols to ensure its Project Restart plan is implemented safely.

Conducted by Hong Kong-based biotechnology company Prenetics as part of its ‘Project Screen’ programme, the tests will determine if an individual has the virus now and not if they have contracted it in the past.

How many tests are there?

Each club will receive up to 80 tests to ensure 40 players and staff can be tested twice a week.

Do the tests take away supply from the NHS or other frontline workers?

No, Prenetics are a private consortium and these tests have been paid for by the Premier League and is of no cost to the taxpayer.

"As a company, if we were asked to provide any preference to NHS that would be the first priority," Avi Lasarow, chief executive of the firm, told The Independent.

"But naturally we are not taking away any NHS capacity.

The Premier League have spent £4million on tests 

What is the testing procedure?

The test consists of two parts. The first involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which is done in less than a minute. These are conducted at drive-through stations. The samples are sealed and couriered to The Doctors Laboratory, a private facility in London. The analysis done there represents step two and is fed back to the Premier League clubs. Results can be delivered within 48 hours.

No specific details as to clubs or individuals that test positive will be provided by the league due to legal and operational requirements.

What happens if a player or member of staff tests positive?

If an individual has shown symptoms and tests positive for coronavirus, they must self-isolate for seven days before having to be swabbed again.

If they’ve shown symptoms but test negative for coronavirus, they will need to follow the same directive.

“If a player tests positive, it’s only him and his family who need to isolate, not anybody else,” confirmed the Premier League’s medical advisor, Dr Mark Gillett.

“This will need to be looked at again when contact training resumes, however.”

Are there any other measures related to testing?

Players and staff will have regular temperature checks and fill out a medical questionnaire daily.

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