Blitzboks coach placed in isolation

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell has produced a positive Covid-19 result and has been admitted to an isolation facility in Kagashimo where the sevens squad are currently in a pre-Olympics training camp.

It was confirmed on Sunday that three members from Team SA’s men’s U23 football team have produced positive tests for Covid-19 and are in isolation in the Tokyo 2020 isolation facility.

Powell has also returned a positive test.

“Team SA officials and management have followed all relevant Olympic Playbook rules, protocols and procedures throughout the pre-Games and Games arrival routines,” a Team SA release read.

“They have been tested on arrival, daily at the Olympic Village and complied with all the mandatory measures implemented to ensure the safety of the Games participants and the people of Japan, including keeping physical distancing and wearing masks at all times.”

It’s another disruptive setback for the Blitzboks, who arrived in Japan on Tuesday, only to be informed of a positive COVID case on the same flight and according to Olympic Games protocols, they were put into quarantine for being a potential close contact (SASCOC release here).

None of the South African players or management initially tested positive upon arrival, but their departure to Kagoshima City was delayed and the training camp in the southern city had to be shortened.

In the latest news, Powell is now in isolation just a week away from the sevens event kicking off at the Olympics.

“Every member of Team South Africa required full medical clearance as an eligibility criteria. In addition, they were encouraged to isolate for two weeks pre-departure, monitor health daily, report any symptoms, and produce two negative nasopharyngeal PCR tests taken within 96 hours of departure, as per Tokyo 2020 requirements,” explained Team SA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Phatho Zondi.

“The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was done during the incubation period of the infection, which is how they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan. They are now in isolation where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the squad,” Dr Zondi added.

SASCOC general team management are following all protocols and processes and pursuing all channels to expedite decision making and ensure the comfort and needs of all affected individuals.

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Craig Lewis