Wednesday 15 July 2020

Brabant clubs to study risk of footballers catching corona on the pitch


Five football clubs are taking part in a study into whether coronavirus is transmitted between players on the pitch to see if matches can resume safely.

The Amphia Ziekenhuis hospital in Breda will analyse and compare saliva samples from players who test positive to see if they infected each other or contracted the virus elsewhere.

If two players have viruses with similar profiles they are more likely to have caught it during a game or training session. ‘The viruses will be fully anatomised. We can work out exactly what the code of the virus is,’ microbiologist Jan Kluytmans told NOS.

Peter Joosten, a member of NAC Breda’s medical team who is also an orthopaedic surgeon at the Amphia hospital, said the aim was to prevent the virus returning when clubs resume competitive action.

‘It’s what we call an observational study,’ he said. ‘We don’t know exactly what the effect of corona is on all the various circumstances that we operate in. When are you infected, under what circumstances, and when are you safe? What happens when a group of footballers gradually starts training together again?’

The other clubs taking part in the study – all in Brabant – are PSV Eindhoven, Willem II Tilburg, RKC Waalwijk and Top Oss. Joosten said it would take time to build up enough evidence to draw conclusions about the risk to players.

‘Organisations like the GGD [local health boards] are looking for things to hold on to. We’re not pretending to offer that, but we can give arguments for making certain decisions,’ he said.

‘Football is a contact sport, so you want to see if there are risks,’ said Kluytmans. ‘The great thing about the world of professional football is that it’s an environment that can be well monitored. If a couple of players test positive you can see what they’ve been doing.’

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