A week after reconvening for a national training camp in Bangalore, five members of the Indian men's hockey team including captain Manpreet Singh tested positive for COVID-19. Apart from Manpreet, defender Surender Kumar, Jaskaran Singh, drag flicker Varun Kumar and goalkeeper Krishan Pathak have tested positive for the virus, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) announced on Friday.
SAI also added that a few more tests results were still awaited.
The players had returned to the national camp following a one month break, after having been stranded at the Bangalore centre of the Sports Authority of India, for over two months when a nationwide lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
As per the Standard Operating Protocols instituted by SAI, all the hockey players were tested via the rapid COVID-19 test when they first arrived in Bangalore and had returned negative tests. A SAI release however added that after Manpreet and Surender subsequently began showing COVID-19 symptoms, they along with 10 other athletes who had travelled together to Bangalore were given the Quantitative RT-PCR test on Thursday.
According to the SAI release, since all the athletes who tested positive had travelled together, there is a high likelihood that they contracted the virus while travelling from their hometowns to Bengaluru.
While five athletes subsequently returned positive tests, they had all been undergoing a 14-day quarantine as per the health ministry guidelines. The SAI release also said that the athletes had been kept in isolation as a precautionary measure and had not interacted with other teammates.
Manpreet did not appear to be severely affected by the virus. "I am self quarantined on the SAI campus and I am very happy with the way SAI authorities have handled the situation. I am very happy that they made the testing of athletes mandatory. That proactive step helped in identifying the problem right in time. I am doing fine and hope to recover very soon," Manpreet was quoted as saying.
However, with several athletes having tested positive, it remains to be seen whether the National Hockey training camp continues as per schedule. According to the SOP document issued by SAI, in case of a confirmed COVID-19 case, the local public health Authorities need to be notified and the training facilities might be closed on the instruction of the local public health authority. The SOP document adds that reopening of the training facility should only occur after close consultation with the local public health authority.