Tennis: Hundreds of Australian Open players, staff told to isolate after positive COVID-19 case
MELBOURNE: Up to 600 players and support staff connected to the Australian Open will have to isolate until they have been tested for COVID-19, after a hotel quarantine worker in Melbourne returned a positive result for the coronavirus on Wednesday (Feb 3).
Thursday's matches at six warm-up events for the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park have been cancelled, but Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the case should not impact the Australian Open itself, which starts next Monday.
"There is a number of about 500, 600 people who are players and officials and others who are casual contacts," Andrews said at a news conference late on Wednesday.
"They will be isolating until they get a negative test, and that work will be done tomorrow."
Test results are generally returned within 24 hours.
COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) said in a statement that the worker, a man who worked his last shift at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne on Jan 29, returned a positive result on Wednesday.
"We are contacting all Australian Open players, officials and support staff who were staying at the Grand Hyatt during the entire period," said CQV, the government agency overseeing the quarantine of participants ahead of the Grand Slam.
Andrews said the that anyone at the hotel was considered a casual contact.
Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, reintroduced the compulsory wearing of masks in indoor public places from Thursday, while the limit for private gatherings was reduced from 30 people to 15.
The state had gone 28 days without a locally acquired infection before the new case prompted the tightening of rules.
About 1,200 players, coaching staff and officials arrived in Australia in the middle of January for the year's first Grand Slam, and went into a mandatory 14-day isolation.
The Grand Hyatt was one of the designated hotels used for quarantine.
The players were allowed five hours outside a day for training, but 72 of them were confined to hotel rooms for the whole two weeks after passengers on three charter flights taking them to Australia tested positive for COVID-19.
Australian Open participants were given the green light to begin exiting COVID-19 quarantine from the end of last week, with most of them involved in the ATP and WTA events at the site of the hardcourt major.
"At this stage there is no impact on the tournament proper," Andrews added.
"I must say (the Australian Open) is important to us, but the issues are much broader and that is about public health and public safety.
"This is one case. There's no need for people to panic. There's no need for people to be alarmed."
The organisers of the Feb 8 to 21 Grand Slam said on Twitter: "We will work with everyone involved to facilitate testing as quickly as possible.
"There will be no matches at Melbourne Park on Thursday. An update on the schedule for Friday will be announced later today."