Lions suffer Covid-19 blow ahead of derby

The Lions will have nine players unavailable due to Covid-19 regulations for their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked clash with the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Lions team doctor Rob Collins provided more clarity on the situation during a media conference on Thursday, following the announcement on Wednesday that four players had tested positive for coronavirus.

Despite the increase in the number of players unavailable for the match, this appears to be more due to precautions and regulations.

‘The situation at the Lions at the moment is that we have done our routine tests that we have done every week since we started with contact training,’ Collins said.  ‘In the tests this week, we had four players who tested positive. Of those four, two players have subsequently shown symptoms and the rest of the players who are withdrawn were contacts of the players who tested positive.’

The Lions are not the only team who have been affected by Covid-19 regulations ahead of this weekend’s third round of Super Rugby Unlocked. The Stormers have also had to withdraw Steven Kitshoff and Scarra Ntubeni from selection for Friday’s match against the Pumas in Nelspruit.

Collins confirmed that Kitshoff and Ntubeni had to be withdrawn because they came into contact with a Lions player who became symptomatic in the week after the match.

‘One of those players actually got symptoms on Monday, which makes it within the 48-hour window of the match against the Stormers, so we had to do a video review of that match to determine the contacts with the player concerned. That review was done by myself as well as the Stormers doctor and Clint Redhead from SA Rugby. We all agreed on who was in contact with whom and for how long and as a result of that, players have been quarantined as well.

‘The players who have tested positive are following the full protocols which involves remaining at home for at least 10 days and in a self-isolation situation. When they come back after that, depending on how sick they get, the situation changes. If they remain as they are, which is minor symptoms, after 10 days they will be allowed back to the union. They will then follow return-to-sport protocols which involves strict testing which also has specific time frames as to when it can happen.

‘All the contacts of all the players concerned have been traced and they have also been placed in quarantine. That also has a period of 10 days. In total, because of Covid, there are nine Lions players unavailable for selection.’

Collins noted that the two symptomatic Lions players had just about recovered and that the outbreak was not as clustered as was originally believed.

‘Their symptoms are basically recovered by now. I also suspect a few of those positive tests are actually false positive tests.’

While there has been talk of players at other unions exhibiting symptoms, but testing negative, Collins said this was not the case at the Lions.

‘It’s difficult to pinpoint where symptoms are related to a Covid-19 infection. There are false positives and negatives,’ Collins added. ‘We try to be as diligent as possible within our protocols.’

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