Munster has reported nine new positive cases of Covid-19 among their players and staff after the latest round of PCR tests in Cape Town.
The Irish province, Cardiff, Scarlets and Zebre Parma traveled to South Africa earlier in November to take part in their United Rugby Championship games against the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers respectively.
Can’t wait to leave Cape Town
Munster and Cardiff were hoping to join the Scarlets and Zebre Parma by leaving Cape Town on Sunday on a charter flight after South Africa was added to the UK government’s travel red list.
But Munster then reported a case of Covid-19, while Cardiff also remained in Cape Town following two positive cases – one of which is suspected to be the new Omicron variant – with both groups having started a period of ‘isolation.
In a statement posted on the Irish province’s official website, Munster said: âThe latest round of PCR testing from Munster has identified nine positive cases.
âThe group, including staff and players, will move to the designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town, joining the first player who tested positive on Sunday.
âThe remaining group of 38 have all returned negative results and continue to isolate themselves individually in their rooms where they have been based since Sunday evening.
“As the Irish government pointed out on Monday, those who have received negative results have travel permission from South African authorities.
âTaking all precautions, the touring team completed another round of PCR tests this morning, the third in less than 60 hours, and will await the results before the next steps.
âThe 10 members of the group who tested positive will remain in Cape Town until the end of their period of isolation. Although people were disappointed to receive the news, they are fortunately doing well and will continue to be monitored medically for the time being.
“We understand that this is a difficult situation and would like to thank families, friends, colleagues and our rugby community for the many messages of best wishes.”
While the Cardiff travel group also remains in South Africa, the Scarlets players and staff are currently isolated in a hotel in Belfast, while the Parma team are doing the same in Italy.
The Heineken Champions Cup is set to kick off on December 10, with Cardiff hosting European champions Toulouse the next day and Munster visiting Wasps 24 hours later.
The Scarlets are expected to start their European campaign against Bristol at Ashton Gate on December 11, with Munster and Cardiff also facing 10 days of hotel quarantine upon their return.
Teams that are unable to complete European Cup matches risk losing the match under the strict tournament rules, and it is understood that the organizers of the competition currently do not intend to postpone matches.
Such a position, however, drew criticism last season after a handful of coronavirus-related cancellations saw the teams responsible suffer 28-0 defeats.
South African derbies fill the void in the URC
Meanwhile, South Africa’s United Rugby Championship teams will play derbies that are believed to have taken place later in the season this weekend, instead of their scheduled matches against touring Welsh, Ireland and Italy.
The Sharks host the Bulls in Durban on Friday, while the Stormers face the Cape Lions on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, traveling teams surprised by South Africa’s sudden addition to the UK’s travel red list risk being cold-cast into the ferocity of a Champions Cup weekend, after that organizers have said they have no plans to postpone matches until the tournament opens. weekend.