REUTERS: West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce has called for a temporary halt to the Premier League season to act as a "circuit break" amid rising COVID-19 cases at top-flight clubs.
The Premier League said 18 individuals had tested positive for the novel coronavirus between Dec. 21-27, the most in a week this season, with Sheffield United reporting several new cases before Tuesday's 1-0 defeat by Burnley.
Manchester City on Monday reported more cases, days after Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker tested positive, and their game at Everton was postponed.
Britain is battling a highly infectious variant of the novel coronavirus and Allardyce said it was time to act.
"Everyone's safety is more important than anything else. When I listen to the news the variant virus transmits quicker than the original ... we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break," Allardyce told reporters.
"I'm 66 and the last thing I want to do is catch COVID. I'm very concerned for myself and football... We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try."
Burnley boss Sean Dyche said the league would have to take action if cases continued to rise, while Brighton manager Graham Potter said he would follow official guidelines.
"... Football is important, but not as important as people's lives and health," Potter added.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, said a stoppage would put extra pressure on teams with an already packed schedule.
"I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break," Solskjaer said. "When are we going to play the games? We all know this year is so difficult ... I don't think stopping the games is going to make a big change."
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)