Bundesliga club Cologne are getting no special treatment compared to other businesses in Germany after being allowed to continue training despite three positive tests for Covid-19, team doctor Paul Klein said yesterday.
“We have no special rules. It’s not true that in a similar case in another company per se, that all have to go into quarantine. There are clear guidelines... on how to deal with contact persons of those infected,” Klein said in an interview with the club website.
Club officials and others have said the cases show that a Bundesliga restart concept with many tests and strict hygiene rules was working.
Cologne reported the three cases late Friday, from tests conducted the previous day as all clubs are getting ready for a possible league restart later in the month — under guidelines set up by a task force of the German Football League (DFL) and German Football Federation (DFB).
The three, two players and another staff member, are to go into quarantine for a fortnight and will be tested again before being allowed to return.
Klein said that the three have been contacted by the city’s health authorities. Any direct contacts of them — household members or those with body fluid contact with the affected over a 15-minute period — must also be quarantined.
Training by contrast can continue tomorrow after a weekend off because the team has trained in small groups and under social distancing rules which minimises risks.
“That’s how the health authorities view it. And therefore there is no collective quarantine necessary,” Klein said.
“The prerequisite for this is, of course, that now that we have started testing, we continue to test consistently, thus ensuring that only those who have tested negatively are part of training. We then know who carries the virus and who does not. That is exactly the idea behind the DFL’s medical concept.”
Cologne managing director Alexander Wehrle struck a similar note in an interview with Sky TV, saying: “It shows that we can go very optimistic into playing again, based on this concept.”
Wehrle confirmed that two players were among the three infected, none of who showed any symptoms.
He said everyone will be tested again on Monday and then further talks held with local health authorities on a possible return to full team training — possibly after talks Wednesday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers on a further easing of restrictions, including in sport.
Tim Meyer, who heads the DFL and restart project, was also upbeat, saying that “we now see in everyday life that our concept recognises and reduces risks at an early stage.
“We will always be in close contact with the responsible health authorities and medical experts. We are convinced that with our concept, we can enable players to practice their profession with the best possible protection against infection.”
However, it remains to be seen what will happen once full training or even matches are allowed again with plenty of contact — and players then test positive for the Sars-CoV-2 virus, a scenario that could lead to collective quarantines and unforeseeable implications.
Other clubs such as Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt meanwhile reported no positive tests within in their ranks but there was also more criticism, most notably from Social Democratic Party health expert Karl Lauterbach.
“Football should be a role model, and not ‘bread and circuses,’” Lauterbach tweeted.
“Likely two players, one staffer infected.
“The rest (of the squad) continues to train. Whoever trains with Covid-19 risks damages to lung, heart and kidneys,” added Lauterbach, who is a professor of health economics and epidemiology.
“I am surprised that players are allowing this.”
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