American tennis player Tennys Sandgren is on his way to Melbourne after Tennis Australia allegedly intervened so that he could board a charter flight despite a positive test for the corona virus.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Australian time, Sandgren initially suggested he wouldn’t be able to board the Australian Open flight, with Covid writing positively on Thanksgiving and Covid positively on Monday.
Later, Sandgren, a quarter-finalist from last year, added that it looked like he could board the chartered flight before praising Tennis Australia’s top executive, Craig Tiley, as a wizard.
Wow, I’m on the plane. Maybe I just held my breath for too long, he said in a tweet.
He then explained that his first positive test was in November and that he had now made a full recovery. I was sick in November, now completely healthy. There is no documented case where I would be contagious at this point.
The Australian Open suggested that the Victorian health authorities had authorized Sandgren to fly.
The tournament’s official Twitter account said people who had recovered and were not contagious could continue to spread the virus for several months.
Victorian government public health experts review each case based on additional detailed medical records to make sure they are not contagious before checking in for the charter flights, according to the Australian Open.
Players and their teams are tested every day from their arrival in Australia, a much stricter process than anyone else in hotel quarantine.
Victorian government agencies and tournament organizers have previously urged those coming to Australia for the grand slam to take a negative test before leaving their country on charter flights. Tennis Australia has been contacted for comment.
A spokesperson for Covid-19 Quarantine Victoria said it was common in people who tested positive and then recovered to shed viral fragments for a while, which in turn could cause a positive result.
Each person who returns a positive test result has their medical and case history reviewed by a team of public health experts, the spokesperson said. Only those who are determined to be recovered and are no longer contagious are allowed to travel to Australia.
The government unit evaluated Sandgrens’ positive test and determined that he had recovered but was still spreading viral particles. He was then allowed to travel.
Prof Nigel McMillan, the director of infectious diseases and immunology at Menzies Health Institute, told the Guardian that people shedding the virus long after they tested positive is a well-known phenomenon.
He said there were many documented cases of people who recovered but still shed the virus through feces or lung extracts, even though the virus has been shown to be dead.
While he did not comment on the decision to let Sandgren board, McMillan described the tournament’s explanation as logical and plausible. Since Sandgren tested positive in November, there was no reason to believe he was contagious unless he has some serious immune deficiency.
The confusion over Sandgrens Covid’s status came after the Victorian Prime Minister, Daniel Andrews, defended the extraordinary steps the state took to hold the Australian Open this year, arguing that Melbourne could lose the tennis grand slam forever if it next month is canceled.
Andrews told reporters earlier on Thursday: We can’t rule out anyone, any of the players or team members, having this virus. But just focus on what not having this event might mean this year.
The first group of around 1,200 players and staff would land in Melbourne on Thursday for the tournament, which kicks off February 8, with warm-up events starting January 31.
Andrews said the event only went ahead because state public health advice confirmed it could be kept safe.
If the Australian Open doesn’t take place in Melbourne, it will happen elsewhere, he said. It will happen in Japan, it will happen in China, it will happen in Singapore. And the real risk is that it won’t come back.
The Victorian Prime Minister said the event has bolstered tens of thousands of jobs and that Victorian taxpayers had saved about $ 1.5 billion over a decade to build the Melbourne Park tennis district.
On that basis, it’s worth taking these extraordinary steps to make sure this can happen, but in a safe way, he said.
Players and staff are subject to 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine at three locations paid for by Tennis Australia. The proposed bubble is separate from the existing quarantine program for other international arrivals.
Participants are only allowed to leave their rooms for five hours a day after a second day negative test to attend quarantine training sessions as part of the Australian Open bubble. Other personnel are forced to stay in their room for the full 14 days.
Players and staff must be tested 72 hours before boarding a flight to Melbourne, are tested in hotel quarantine every day, and anyone found to have the virus is moved to a separate quarantine facility.
While some experts have questioned the decision to hold the event, Catherine Bennett, Deakin University’s chair of epidemiology, told Guardian Australia on Tuesday that she had greatly expanded the measures the government had taken to manage the event. lines.
The timing is tricky for officials, however, as the federal government announced last week that the number of international passengers allowed to enter New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia would cut by 50%. The decision was made in response to new variants of the virus abroad.
Many Australians have struggled to get back home during the pandemic, often bumped by the scarce and expensive flights available.
The decision to proceed with the Australia Open enraged many stranded Australians abroad and were unable to get flights home due to a lack of quarantine places.
In a message to the Aussies Abandoned Abroad group, Mark Acton said he and his wife had tried to return to Australia before his daughter gave birth to twins.
The couple have repeatedly had flights, one of which cost $ 6,000, canceled and described their situation as ridiculous. Luckily 1,200 tennis players and staff will fly to the Oz Open !! He wrote.
Another user posted a link to a news article about Victorias’s quarantine plans for the tournament, saying only, I have no words (or at least none that I want to post here).
Others wondered why Tennis Australia managed to charter charter flights to bring players and personnel from all over the world to Melbourne for quarantine when the federal government couldn’t.
Tennis Australia could host 15 charter flights from around the world in such a short time, but the Aust Govt can’t? Astonishing! Or is it about money? one person wrote.
Tennis Australia said last week that tickets were sold at 35% of Melbourne Parks capacity, splitting the district into three zones. The capacity can be changed, added the sporty body.
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