Positive Covid tests by Oz Open players believed to be ‘virus shedding’

Positive Covid-19 tests attributed to two Australian Open players are now suspected to be instances of ‘virus shedding’ following evidence of past infections, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

Victoria’s Minister for Emergency Services Lisa Neville has clarified the total number of cases linked to the event that weren’t considered shedding was seven, none of which were players, reports Xinhua news agency.

Neville explained that one of the players initially reported as positive on Tuesday was in hotel lockdown and was reclassified as a virus shedding case, while the other who tested positive along with a support staff member was also suspected to be a case of virus shedding, which health officials were working to confirm.

Instances of positive cases on three flights arriving in Australia last week led to 72 players being considered close contacts and forced to isolate in their hotel rooms, despite previously being told they would be able to train for five hours per day.

Players continued to voice their discontent on social media, prompting a backlash from Australians, particularly those in Melbourne who endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns in the latter months of last year.

However Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said most players understood why they had to quarantine and were fully cooperating with authorities.

“I think the majority of the players understand and accept it and it is a minority that are struggling with it… we’re going to do whatever we can to make it better for them,” Tiley told national broadcaster ABC.

“It’s a tightrope that we walk and one of them is we’ve always said our priority is the safety of the Victorian community and that will not be compromised under any circumstance and I do understand the players.”

Following the public response, several big name stars have distanced themselves from previous criticisms of how the situation was being handled, including World No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut who appeared in an interview comparing the two week quarantine to prison.

After his statements became public, Agut took to social media to apologise for anyone he had offended.

“Both my coach and I are following the protocols designed by the Australian government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way. These are hard times for athletes and society in general,” Agut posted on Twitter.

“The management that has been made in Australia to prevent the spread of the virus is admirable.”