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Munster hit by 9 new positive Covid cases in touring party in South Africa

The positive cases will have to remain in isolation in Cape Town.

Munster at training in Pretoria last week.
Munster at training in Pretoria last week.
Image: Gordon Arons/INPHO

Updated Nov 30th 2021, 10:50 AM

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN hit by nine further positive Covid-19 cases among their group of players and staff in South Africa.

On Sunday, one player in Munster’s travelling party tested positive, with another member of the group identified as a close contact, meaning their hopes of leaving Cape Town on a chartered flight destined for Dublin were scuppered.

Munster underwent another round of PCR testing yesterday and have now reported nine new cases of Covid-19 among the group of 34 players and 14 staff.

Yesterday, Minister for Sports Jack Chambers revealed that Munster’s touring party had been given the all-clear to return home to Ireland.

However, the 10 members of the group who have tested positive for Covid will have to remain in Cape Town until the end of their isolation period.

All of the 10 positive cases have been moved to a designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town, away from the remainder of the squad – who are isolating individually in their rooms at the main team hotel.

Munster underlined that the remaining 38 players and staff do still have permission to depart for Ireland when possible.

The province have undertaken another round of PCR testing this morning – their third in less than 60 hours – and are now waiting for those results ahead of deciding on their next steps. 

Munster originally arrived in South Africa two weekends ago for scheduled United Rugby Championship games against the Bulls and Lions, but those fixtures were postponed amidst the growing concerns over the new ‘Omicron’ variant of Covid-19 in South Africa.

The southern province’s touring party subsequently moved from their base in Pretoria to Cape Town in the hope of joining fellow URC sides Zebre, Scarlets, and Cardiff on a flight back to Dublin on Sunday.

However, their initial single case of Covid meant Munster were forced to return to their team hotel and re-enter isolation in their individual rooms.

The same applied to Cardiff, who recorded two positive Covid cases, with one of them suspected to be the Omicron variant.

Scarlets and Zebre did make it onto the flight to Dublin, with the Welsh side now isolating at a hotel in Belfast, while the Italian club took another flight onwards and are now back home in Parma.

For Munster and Cardiff, the uncertainty continues.

Munster are due to play Wasps in Coventry in the Champions Cup on Sunday 12 December, with tournament organisers and both clubs understood to be keen to proceed with that fixture as currently scheduled.

It now seems very likely that Munster will have to rely on a makeshift team made up of a group of seasoned internationals and a crop of young academy players for that tie and potentially also the clash with Castres in Limerick the following weekend well if they go ahead as planned.

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As for the party still isolating in South Africa, the nightmare saga continues.

“Munster’s latest round of PCR testing has identified nine positive cases. The group, including staff and players, will move to the designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town joining the first player who tested positive on Sunday,” reads this morning’s official Munster statement.

“The remaining party of 38 have all returned negative results and continue to individually isolate in their rooms where they have been based since Sunday night.

“As outlined by the Irish government on Monday, those that have received negative results have clearance to travel from the South African authorities.

“In taking every precaution the touring party have completed another round of PCR testing this morning, the third in less that 60 hours, and will wait on results ahead of next steps.

“The ten members of the group who have tested positive will remain in Cape Town until the end of their isolation period. While the individuals were disappointed on receiving the news they are thankfully well and will continue to be monitored medically at this time.

“We understand this is a challenging situation and would like to thank families, friends, colleagues and our rugby community for the many messages of best wishes.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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