Football: Balestier Khalsa player tests positive for Covid-19; second SPL case in six days

The squad began self-isolation immediately and training sessions will be suspended for the next 10 days.
The squad began self-isolation immediately and training sessions will be suspended for the next 10 days.PHOTO: BALESTIER KHALSA FOOTBALL CLUB/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A player from Singapore Premier League (SPL) club Balestier Khalsa has tested positive for Covid-19, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Sunday night (Sept 19).

The squad began self-isolation immediately and training sessions will be suspended for the next 10 days, said FAS in a statement.

It is the second reported case in six days involving a player from an SPL team, following the confirmation last Tuesday that a Geylang International player had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The FAS said that the Balestier player tested positive after a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and will be placed in a quarantine facility in accordance with prevailing government guidelines.

The test result was detected during the mandatory weekly pooled swab tests that all SPL players and club officials have to undergo.

The Straits Times understands that the player who tested positive had not been in training since last Wednesday due to an injury. Balestier's last match was on Sept 12, against Tanjong Pagar at the Toa Payoh Stadium.

Toa Payoh Stadium and Jalan Besar Stadium - where the tests were carried out - have commenced the necessary deep cleaning protocols.

The club's players and team officials will undergo Fast & Easy Testing (FET) on Tuesday and Thursday, after which they will undergo another PCR test on Saturday.

Balestier's next two SPL match fixtures - against Hougang United on Sept 24 and Geylang on Sept 29 - will be rescheduled to later dates.

The latter match had already been rescheduled once, after the Eagles player tested positive, following a result that first showed up in pooled testing three days prior.

The identities of both players from Geylang and Balestier have not been revealed.

SPL players and officials have been tested weekly in groups of five since May when Singapore entered phase two (heightened alert). Previously, they were swabbed every fortnight since October last year, when the league resumed after a seven-month coronavirus-enforced suspension.

This is at least the fifth Covid-19 case involving SPL players. In July, two Tampines Rovers players tested positive after returning from Uzbekistan where they played their Asian Champions League group matches.

In April last year, Hougang United defender Lionel Tan tested positive when the SPL was suspended due to the pandemic.