Adrian Mariappa has revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in the first batch of Premier League tests.
The Watford defender was one of six positive tests after 748 tests were taken from players and staff across 19 clubs (everyone apart from Norwich City, who were tested a day later) on Sunday and Monday ahead of a return to small-group training from Tuesday.
That means anybody who did positive did not come into close contact with other players of club officials.
Watford have confirmed that two of their coaching staff have also tested positive, while Burnley’s assistance coach Ian Woan has also tested positive. Anybody who tests positive will now have to self-isolate for seven days and under strict Premier League protocols will be tested at a later date before they can return to training grounds for social-distanced training sessions.
Mariappa told Telegraph Sport more details about his positive test.
“It’s quite scary how you can feel absolutely fine and not really have left the house, and yet still get the virus,” Mariappa said. “If it wasn’t for the fact I had gone back to training and had this test, then I’d never have found out that I had the virus and I would just be getting on with things as normal. That’s obviously quite a strange thought.”
“I live with three of my children, who are five, nine and 11, and my partner and, obviously, now I’m a bit worried about them. They are all fine and are not showing any symptoms, but you can’t help but think about it and keep your distance once you know you’ve tested positive.”
Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to a return to small-group training from Tuesday, as players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. 40 tests will take place on players and staff at clubs twice per week.
Mariappa’s Watford team, Troy Deeney, has revealed he will not return to small-group training this week as he is not comfortable with the protocols in place and has more questions about the risks.
Watford manager Nigel Pearson has also been outspoken about the risks of rushing a return to training and chairman Scott Duxbury is keen for games to be played home and away if and when the 2019-20 season returns. The Hornets are currently embroiled in a relegation battle, as they only sit out of the drop zone on goal difference with nine games to go.
Next week is a key week for the Premier League ‘Project Restart’ plan as clubs are due to meet on Tuesday (May 26) to discuss a return to full contact training, then again on Thursday (May 28) to vote on whether or not to restart the season.
Phase One of the return to training protocol is now well under way and that means players and staff have to strictly adhere to social-distancing rules inside and outside of the training grounds. If they don’t, then the entire ‘Project Restart’ plan will fall down as more positive tests will be found and individuals will be forced to self-isolate for seven days at a time.