Arsenal on Thursday confirmed that manager, Mikel Arteta, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus while its London Colney training centre has been closed.
The North London club’s game with title holders, Manchester City, scheduled for last Wednesday was called off as Arsenal players and four coaching staff went into self-isolation after coming in contact with the owner of Greek club, Olympiacos, who recently tested positive.
Arteta is the first person to test positive to the virus in the Premier League which raises the possibility of a temporary suspension of the league.
According to a club statement, its personnel who had recent close contact with the Spanish will self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines.
“We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.
“We expect those who did not have close contact with Mikel to return to work in the coming days. In the meantime our Colney and Hale End training centres will undergo a deep clean and our other club sites are operating as normal,” the statement said.
The club added that it was working to trace any other people who have had recent close contact with Arteta.
“We will work with Public Health England on the next steps in regard to our facilities and staff, and with the Premier League, Football Association and relevant clubs around our forthcoming matches in the Premier League and Emirates FA Cup.
“It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates. We will update supporters who have tickets for forthcoming games with more information as soon as possible,” the club stated.
Meanwhile, the Premier League has said it would hold an emergency club meeting on Friday morning (today) regarding fixtures following Arsenal manager’s positive test to COVID-16.
There have been calls for the suspension of the the league as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus in the UK.
Italy, the worst hit in Europe, has suspended sports activities and announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the disease.
The Spanish La Liga was on Thursday suspended for two weeks after the entire Real Madrid first football team went into quarantine.