Three Leicester City first-team players have shown symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and have been kept away from the rest of the squad.
The Foxes are due to face Watford at Vicarage Road in early kick-off in the Premier League on Saturday. Premier League officials plan to hold “an emergency club meeting” on Friday to discuss if the league will be suspended, or whether games will be played behind closed doors.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers in a press conference on Thursday added that the three players have self-isolated to curb the spread of the virus. Rodgers noted that the club had “followed procedures” in dealing with the situation but did not confirm which players may be affected or quarantined.
Rodgers said: “We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs (of coronavirus). We’ve followed procedures and (as a precaution) they have been kept away from the squad.
“We’ve self-isolated the three of them and we’ll see how that develops in the next couple of days.
“This is about health, this is more than football. This is about players and their families, so any risks that are there for their health and everyone else’s, we have to mitigate against that.
“The game is all about the players and the fans. If you have one of those not there, it’s obviously not the same.”
Rodgers also called for the suspension of the league as the deadly virus has find its way into the Premier League. The Foxes manager added that the public’s safety must be paramount.
“Of course from a football perspective it would be a shame, but I think the public’s health is the most important aspect in all of this,” Rodgers said.
“For us working in football, it is having that agility to move with whatever happens.
“Of course we are clearly guided by the government and federations so we have to get on with our work and prepare as normal of course but this is something that can change very, very quickly.”
Leicester City have also confirmed in a statement on Thursday that three members of its first-team squad have undertaken a period of self-isolation following recent medical advice.
‘Leicester City Football Club can confirm that, as a precautionary measure, three members of its first-team squad have undertaken a period of self-isolation following recent medical advice.
‘In recent days, all three players presented with extremely mild illness and were advised by Club medical staff, consistent with current government guidance, to stay home and contact the NHS 111 service.
‘All three players were subsequently advised by NHS 111 that their symptoms were consistent with common seasonal illness and that a seven-day period of self-isolation was appropriate as a precaution.
‘There was no recommendation that further testing would be necessary. The Club is in regular contact with the relevant players, whose symptoms remain mild and self-manageable.
‘In the current medical climate, the Club is acutely aware of its responsibilities to all of its employees and has issued extensive internal advice consistent with current recommendations from the government and medical professionals on COVID-19 (coronavirus). All staff experiencing moderate symptoms of ill-health have been advised to stay at home, to contact NHS 111 and to follow their recommended advice.
‘Supporters are asked to actively seek out the latest government advice on best practice in relation to stopping the spread of the virus, which can be found here.
‘Anyone who has recently travelled to the United Kingdom from a country with a high risk of coronavirus should immediately seek medical advice by calling the NHS 111 service, while anyone with flu symptoms are asked to stay away from King Power Stadium to avoid a potential spread to other supporters.
‘The Club continues to monitor the situation closely and to take suitable measures to best protect the health of its employees, supporters, and stakeholders.’
484 cases have been recorded in the UK and eight people have died. The UK government on Thursday also announced that it has stepped up its response to the pandemic.
Another Premier League club also have three players isolated amid fears they have contracted coronavirus and that could mean that Premier League matches are either postponed, or at the very least played behind closed doors.
It was learned on Thursday that Premier League doctors are due to hold summit talks to discuss the virus and how clubs can minimise the growing risk of Covid-19.
It is understood proposals to shut off specific areas of stadiums and training grounds will be discussed as well as formulating clear guidelines in the event of games being played behind closed doors or suspended.
Across Europe, major footballing leagues have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. LaLiga have suspended the next two weeks of football in Spain, with Real Madrid isolating for 15 days after one of the club’s basketball players contract the virus. Serie A has been suspended until April 3 and the Dutch Eridivisie has followed suit until March 31.
UEFA, meanwhile, said they are hosting a video meeting of all 55 football federations next Tuesday to discuss whether to suspend the Champions League and the Europa League.