Boca isolates squad after COVID-19 ‘outbreak’

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Argentina giants Boca Juniors have isolated players and suspended training for 72 hours after coronavirus testing revealed an “outbreak” of COVID-19 in the squad, the club confirmed on Monday in a statement.

The squad is currently in a bubble in a hotel complex outside of Buenos Aires preparing for the restart of the Copa Libertadores on Sept. 17, with club doctor Ruben Argemi telling Fox Sports that there are “around 19” positive COVID-19 cases.

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Argemi didn’t want to give names because of the possible presence of false positive tests, but added that “we assume that there are a lot of cases and there is a problem.”

Boca Juniors sent players to their rooms and canceled training as a precaution while new tests were carried out, with the famous Argentine team scheduled to play Libertad in Paraguay on Sept. 17 in the group phase of the Libertadores.

The club was testing players twice a week in its bubble and had been returning negative results, until Friday night, when COVID-19 symptoms were detected in the camp. After the results of swab tests came back positive, the club took the decision to isolate all the players and await the results of PCR tests that were carried out on Sunday.

Club doctor Argemi confirmed that all the cases bar one have been asymptomatic and that Boca doesn’t understand how the bubble environment was contaminated.

“Nobody outside of the delegation comes in or goes out of the hotel,” said Argemi. “We don’t know what happened … We followed the CONMEBOL protocol, which is the most demanding, vigorously. No player left the bubble.”

Coach Miguel Angel Russo, 64, has now left the bubble due to his age and medical history, according to reports.

Libertad head coach Ramon Diaz sent a message of support to Boca ahead of the game between the two.

“It’s a shame because Boca is always a very important club,” said former River Plate coach Diaz. “I think Argentina is going through a hard and difficult time, hopefully it can get through it as quickly as possible and the players can get better.

“We need everyone to be ok, I hope they look after each other and get better.”