Why we still see cases of Covid-19 among top athletes


The world of sport, a few days away from one of its leading world events, has treated a significant and worrying number of Covid-19 cases.

Some Japanese residents have called for the Olympics to be canceled, which starts this week a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sports teams and major events are challenged by the recent number of positive tests. Here are some cases:

• The recent America Cup and the European football championships saw teams lose players who couldn’t compete due to virus protocols.

• Six New York Yankees players tested positive for the virus last week, force postponement of the MLB opener after the All-Star Game break and forcing a number of roster changes in the competitions that took place. This It was not the first time the Yankees have seen a cluster of cases.

• The Colorado Rockies announced on Friday that several players, manager and a coach would be running out of time due to MLB’s Covid-19 and contact tracing protocols

• The US hoops team exhibition game scheduled for Friday was called off after USA Basketball announced Washington Wizards goalie Bradley Beal will miss the Olympics and Detroit Pistons Jerami Grant was placed under organizational health and safety protocols.

• Two members of the South African men’s soccer team and a video analyst tested positive at the Olympic Village. Now, 21 team members considered close contacts of these athletes are in isolation or quarantine.

• Tennis players Alex de Minaur from Australia and Coco gauff of the United States have tested positive, which means they would not participate in the Olympics.

• Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of the US 3×3 women’s Olympic basketball team, will also miss the Games due to Covid-19.

• On Sunday, Kara Eaker, a substitute for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, has been placed in isolation after testing positive for the virus.

But is the large number of cases a sign of Covid in the world around us, or is there something different about athletic competitions?

“There aren’t a lot of places that we test as frequently as we do with professional and college sports,” Dr. Costi Sifri, infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at the Hospital, told CNN on Monday. ‘University of Virginia.

He said it’s not a bad thing that frequent athlete testing takes over what has often been a noticeable number of asymptomatic cases.

He said if he had been an Olympic athlete he would have had the vaccine – which is not mandatory – but when he got to Tokyo he would act like he wasn’t vaccinated.

“There are ways to do things safely,” he said, emphasizing wearing a mask in high risk situations and attending social events only if they are taking place at the outside.

The closeness in which athletes spend time could be a breeding ground for infectious diseases, he said. It should be noted that vaccination programs vary from country to country and that not as much is known about some vaccines given in some countries, he added. And some teenage athletes could come from countries that don’t vaccinate people that age, he said.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta, reporting from Tokyo, said the Olympics presented a unique challenge. More than 11,000 athletes representing 206 National Olympic Committees have come to an island nation that has seen an increase in the number of cases.

There will be no influx of fans into the country, as the events will not have spectators for the events in Tokyo and the venues in neighboring prefectures.

Tokyo athletes are asked to limit their travel to venues and the village. The rest of the strategy is the pillars of public health in the event of a pandemic, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s Group of Independent Experts (IEP) recently told Gupta.

“Social distancing, physical distancing, wearing a mask and hand hygiene,” said Olympics health adviser Dr. Brian McCloskey. “They were always at the heart of what we knew would reduce the risk of Covid during the Games. And then we started a layer on top of that, the testing strategy we might have.”

He told reporters at the Olympics on Monday that he believed the numbers for Covid-19 were “in fact extremely low, they are probably lower than what we expected to see from anything.”

The competition begins Wednesday and the opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday.

The Olympic Village is equipped with Covid-19 testing and health centers, with signs reminding residents to wear face masks and to stand at least 1 meter (about 3.3 feet) from each other. Athletes will be researched and tested daily for Covid-19; if they are positive, they are taken to an isolation center outside the Olympic Village and will not be able to compete.

Dr Amy Compton Phillips, clinical director of Providence Health System, said officials were doing the right thing.

“They do what you do with a new pathogen when you want to contain it, not mitigate the spread, not, you know, slow the spread, but stop it in its tracks,” she told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

One thing that would help thwart the spread of the virus would be for all professional sports teams to be able to persuade 100% of their eligible members to get vaccinated, Sifri said.

Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed earlier this year to relax certain health and safety protocols for clubs that have an immunization rate of 85% or more.

The Yankees are one of 23 major league teams to have reached that threshold, said a source with knowledge of the situation. Before these protocols were changed, players were tested at least every other day.

But Sifri said the Delta and the other variants are an elephant in the room.

“The new variants raise the question: is this (85% threshold) still sufficient? he said.

Teams must tell unvaccinated members to socially distance themselves and wear face masks in locker rooms, he said. They should also try to understand why a member of the team is not vaccinated.

What about the fans? Do spectators still have to wear a mask at an event? Sifri said he probably wouldn’t wear one given the current situation.

“I am quite comfortable knowing the effectiveness of vaccines and the biology of transmission being outside without a mask,” he said.

But he added that he would also take local data and case trends into account. What is happening where he lives in Virginia, for example, could be better than another state where the numbers are concerning, he said.

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