The Premier League hit with record cases of Covid-19 among players and staff as more fixtures are postponed
New statistics from the Premier League reveal that a record 103 players and staff have tested positive for Covid-19 since Monday 20 December. The league has reverted to emergency measures, including mandating face covering, social distancing and limited face-to-face treatment, alongside greatly expanded testing.
Official Nike Flight Winter match ball during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park on December 26, 2021 in Birmingham, England.
The league revealed that it has reverted to emergency measures to prevent the further spread of the virus, increasing the testing at each of the clubs to a daily lateral flow test and PCR test twice a week.
Previously, clubs were mandated to conduct lateral flow testing twice a week.
The emergency measures also reinstate protocols to limit the transmission of the disease, including wearing face coverings while indoors, maintaining social distancing and limiting the amount of time each player can spend on the treatment table.
Data from the Premier League shows that testing has almost quadrupled since 13 December in line with the increased numbers of cases found. Less than 30 cases were confirmed last month compared with the 307 since 29 November.
Premier League and EFL clubs voted to fulfil the festive fixtures despite growing Covid-19 figures, confirming that games will go ahead as long as it is ‘safe to do so’.
15 games have been postponed due to Covid-19 so far since the 10 December, starting with Brighton’s match away at Tottenham.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has been among those calling for a return to the use of five substitutes that propped up the league at the peak of the pandemic.
Speaking ahead of their clash with Aston Villa, he said: "I just can say on this occasion I would love to push for five substitutions because five substitutions were made to protect the players when coronavirus popped up and made life difficult.
"I think the situation is very serious and very challenging so if we decided to keep on playing at least we should have five changes to control the load."
The Premier League is the only one of Europe’s top leagues that has not persisted with the five-sub rule, in place since summer 2020.
The league has also been criticised for leaving fans in the dark over potential postponements.
Amid speculation of its cancellation, Tottenham’s game with Crystal Palace was confirmed to be going ahead just three and a half hours before kick-off.
Similarly, Aston Villa’s match with Burnley was cancelled just two hours before the first whistle.