The Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh and *four other players have tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of a national camp in Bengaluru that is expected to go ahead as scheduled with those who are fit to train, the Sports Authority of India said on Friday, reported PTI.
Besides Manpreet, defender Surender Kumar, Jaskaran Singh and drag-flicker Varun Kumar have also tested positive for the coronavirus. PTI later reported that goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak has also tested positive, and that is result came later.
Manpreet said in a statement that he is self quarantined on the SAI campus. “I am doing fine and hope to recover very soon. I am very happy that they made the testing of athletes mandatory. That proactive step helped in identifying the problem right in time,” he added.
However, a SAI official told PTI that the camp will resume from August 20 as planned with the fit players.
“As of now the camp is on and will resume as planned. The fit players can start their individual training and the players who have tested positive for Covid-19 can resume later after recovering but they will have to pass a fitness test,” the official told PTI.
The players tested positive after returning to the national hockey camp at the SAI South Centre in Bengaluru following a month-long break. The players were earlier stranded at the centre for over two months when a national lockdown was imposed to contain the virus.
The players and support staff, who are expected to arrive from various parts of the country and abroad, were meant undergo a two-week quarantine inside the campus before resuming training. They were to be tested on arrival and again after the quarantine period ends.
Having spent nearly four months in the camp due to the nationwide lockdown, the players headed to their home towns on June 19 for a four-week break after the easing of restrictions.
“...SAI made it mandatory for all athletes , who reported back to the camp to take a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival,” the governing body said in a statement.
“Since all the athletes who tested positive had travelled together, there is a high likelihood that they contracted the virus while travelling from their hometowns to Bengaluru.
The SAI further said that all the four players initially tested negative in the rapid test. But when Manpreet and Surender began to display some Covid-19 symptoms, they along with 10 other players, who had travelled together, were made to undergo the Quantitative RT-PCR test on Thursday.
“...and the four have been found to be COVID positive. Though the test results have still not been handed over to SAI, but the state government has informed the test results to the SAI authorities,” the statement added.
It further said that test results of a few players are still awaited.
All athletes, including Manpreet, who reported to the camp were undergoing mandatory 14-day quarantine as per the Health Ministry Guidelines. As a precautionary measure, they were kept in isolation to negate the possibility of transmission of the virus.
“The quarantined athletes did not interact with other athletes who were already present at the camp,” the SAI said.
The Standard Operating Procedure of the state government and of SAI were being followed strictly across the campus, reported PTI.
All the players who have tested positive were part of a 10-member group who have travelled together and there are chances of more positive results come out, an official told PTI.
(With PTI inputs)
(Clarification: The report has been updated with the fifth positive result.)