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Last Updated: 07/08/20 12:20pm
Aberdeen’s game away to St Johnstone on Saturday will still go ahead despite the club receiving two positive coronavirus tests and having six other players self-isolating.
The Joint Response Group confirmed the club had returned two preliminary positive tests for coronavirus among its playing squad.
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One of those players has since recorded another positive result following an NHS test while the second player is still awaiting the result of that follow-up.
Both players will now enter a period of self-isolation along with a further six players who were found to have been in close proximity to the initial positive player.
The initial positive player will require to self-isolate for 10 days from Wednesday with the remaining seven players to self-isolate for 14 days from the same date.
It comes after a jump in coronavirus cases in Aberdeen has forced Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to impose new restrictions on the city.
However, the Joint Response Group, alongside the Scottish Government, are satisfied Aberdeen’s trip to McDiarmid Park, live on Sky Sports, can still go ahead safely.
Rod Petrie, Joint Response Group Chair said: “As we have said from the outset, public health is the absolute priority of the Joint Response Group. As soon as we were informed of the positive tests, the information was immediately referred to the Scottish Government via our Chief Medical Consultant.
“Given the well-documented outbreak in Aberdeen it was imperative that we took the swiftest action to enable the local Health Protection Team to respond immediately.
“The Scottish Government’s instruction to the JRG was clear and unequivocal, as was our support of that instruction.”
The Scottish government has accused Aberdeen players of putting the return of football at risk.
A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is disappointed by the actions of these individuals who have put at risk the return of professional football in Scotland. This was a clear breach of the rules that were put in place by the SFA, the SPFL and the Scottish Government.
“As this outbreak highlights, it’s imperative that these strict protocols are diligently followed in order to ensure the continued safe resumption of the sport.
“The Scottish Government is clear that it is only by following the rules and keeping people safe that football is able to continue. No one wants to see the season put at risk.
“Officials will also be meeting with all club captains and managers in the next few days to emphasise the guidelines and their importance.”
Sports minister Joe FitzPatrick has called a meeting with the Scottish football authorities on Friday.
Despite the pandemic, Scottish Premiership clubs have been given an exemption which has allowed them to resume training and playing matches.
Under the terms of that exemption, players and team staff members are operating in a bubble and must undergo testing twice a week to ensure any fresh outbreaks are quickly caught and traced.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack called for fans to reserve judgement on the players who have been instructed to self-isolate.
Got the JRG decision on affected players 30 mins before it went public. Don’t have all the facts. Asking fans for their patience and trust. Please give the players the time they need to ensure they are healthy & to allow us time to review and reflect on what happened. Stand Free! pic.twitter.com/yNy2nqYjuY
— Dave Cormack (@CormackDavie) August 7, 2020
In a video message to fans, Cormack said: “We don’t have all the facts. None of us do.
“I don’t know about you but I’m far from perfect and prone to making errors of judgement. It’s all about how we respond to something we wish had not happened.
“We are therefore asking for your patience to give the affected players the time they need to make sure they are healthy and to provide the club with the opportunity to reflect on what we just went through.”
Cormack’s video message came after he had initially released a statement expressing his frustrations at the positive test results.
He said: “After Saturday’s game, with all eyes on Pittodrie, we were once again commended on the stringent processes and measures we had in place.
“Given the efforts of everyone at the club and our investment in protecting our most valuable assets, this is a bitter blow.
“With two first team players testing positive for COVID-19, plus six others having to isolate for 14 days, it is also a harsh reminder of the severity and speed of spread of this virus.
“The club will be carrying out a full investigation but, as an immediate first step, we have reinforced the club’s COVID-19 protocols and the governing bodies’ guidance with every player and member of staff and will continue to regularly educate and remind everyone of what is, and what is not, acceptable in the current climate.
“We now have to focus on preparing for Saturday’s game under extremely difficult circumstances.”
Sky Sports – the new home of Scottish football – has announced its plans ahead of the Scottish Premiership season with Eilidh Barbour presenting coverage of up to 48 live matches.
Regular analyst Kris Boyd will be joined by James McFadden and three new faces on the Sky Sports Scottish Premiership team. Former Rangers, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock striker Ally McCoist, former Scotland and Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, and former Celtic striker John Hartson will all be part of the Sky coverage throughout the campaign.
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