Plymouth Argyle have been contacted by Leyton Orient to inform them that “a number of our first-team squad have tested positive for COVID-19“.
The news comes ahead of Orient’s League Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur this week. Orient’s statement reads:
“Today (Monday 21st) we received formal confirmation which shows that a number of our first-team squad have tested positive for COVID-19.
We have informed the EFL and Tottenham Hotspur and will make a further announcement regarding Tuesday’s match shortly.
We have also informed Mansfield Town, Plymouth Argyle and Oldham Athletic, our three most recent opponents, prior to the public release of this information.
Leyton Orient’s priority is the health and well-being of its players and staff. Those who have tested positive will now strictly follow government self-isolation guidelines.
The Breyer Group Stadium and training ground facilities will be closed until further notice.”
The EFL chose to stop mandatory weekly Coronavirus testing in the past couple of weeks, meaning that the virus could have spread to Orient’s opponents, Mansfield, Argyle and Oldham, who themselves have played a further three teams since: AFC Wimbledon, Morecambe and Stevenage.
The footballing season was drawn to a premature close last season after an outbreak occurred among a number of teams, most notably including Mikel Arteta. His positive test was one of the triggers for the pausing of the footballing season back in March.
Testing in the EFL is now only mandatory when a player is showing symptoms, with Premier League teams paying for EFL teams to conduct tests before their sides meet in cup competitions. That is probably how Orient paid for this test ahead of tomorrow’s match.
This is because lower-league teams cannot afford to pay for testing. Sportsmail reports: “with each test costing between £100 and £150, the weekly bill can be as much as £30,000 if 100 employees are checked prior to two matches.”
The main reason Leagues One and Two were curtailed, while the Premier League and the Championship played on, was the financial costs of regular testing. Should this be required again, we may see another pause to the newly started season.
Plymouth Argyle have since announced that the club will undertake precautionary Coronavirus testing as a result of Orient’s announcement. The statement reads:
“Although there is no competition requirement to do so, Plymouth Argyle FC has made arrangements to undertake a precautionary round of COVID-19 testing ahead of Saturday’s game against Shrewsbury Town, having received confirmation that a number of Leyton Orient players have tested positive for coronavirus.
At the time of writing, no members of the squad or football staff are experiencing any symptoms. As is consistent with government guidance, any member of staff who tests positive or begins to experience symptoms will be required to self-isolate.”
Plymouth Argyle haven’t been tested since they played against Orient, Ryan Lowe suggested last week. Speaking to the Herald last Thursday, 17th September, he said: “We got tested a couple of weeks ago, so I think that’s it now. The protocols change all the time.
“We are staying in our bubble. Yeah, the lads will go for food and do whatever with their families, but in our bubble, certainly, we are okay.
“We have just got to make sure that we do all the right things – the social distances and what not.
“We have been tested probably five or six times. We got tested twice in two or three days when we went up to Glasgow (for Argyle’s pre-season training camp) because of the protocols.”