6 virus cases at 3 Premier League clubs as training resumes

MANCHESTER, England: The Premier League’s first wave of mass coronavirus testing of players and staff found six people infected at three of the 19 clubs to conduct the checks.

Socially distant training sessions can now begin, without the involvement of the six people with COVID-19 who have to self-isolate for seven days. They include Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan, whose positive test was announced by the club. Burnley said Woan was asymptomatic.

The league has not disclosed the identities of those who test tested positive from the tests on 748 people on Sunday and Monday.

“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency,” the league said in a statement.

One of the 20 clubs in the league only started conducting tests on Tuesday. The results of those tests will be included in the figures from the second wave of checks being published on Saturday.

The competition has been suspended since March due to the pandemic. A relaxation of national lockdown regulations is only now allowing non-contact training to resume, with a maximum of five players working together for up to 75 minutes a day at training facilities.

While the top divisions in Belgium, France and the Netherlands have been curtailed, the Premier League has government backing to plan a return to action in June.

But the aim of restarting around June 12 looks hard to meet. Approval for contact training and games resuming rely on there being no new spike in COVID-19 cases in the country with the second highest known deaths from the disease after the United States.

Premier League clubs will hold a conference call next Tuesday to discuss the protocols needed for contact training, as social distancing is still urged in wider society.

The pause in the league has left Liverpool waiting to complete the end of its 30-year title drought. Jürgen Klopp’s side is 25 points clear with nine games remaining.

“There was a discussion that people wanted to declare the season null and void,” Klopp said in a video interview for the German football federation that was released on Tuesday. “That would have been something that I personally would have found unfair, if you said that it just didn’t happen.”

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