It is the habit of throwing bottles that afflicts some Premier League club doctors.
A player takes one, drinks from it and throws it back on the white line, from where it will be put back on the rack for anyone to use – a ready medium for transmitting the viruses to which elite players may be particularly prone.
A doctor talks about pushing to put labels on the bottles to prevent a virus from spreading so elementally, but it was a struggle. Players in good physical shape, playing elite football week after week, think they are untouchable.
Football players are sitting ducks for coronavirus, warns a former Premier League doctor
The Premier League was forced into action after Mikel Arteta (L) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (L) tested positive for the disease
The Covid-19 virus has revealed that they are anything but. Within a 12-hour period on Thursday, no fewer than five Premier League players were isolating themselves, with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea's Hudson-Odoi confirmed to be infected.
The sudden surplus of cases in elite football stems in part from tests for the virus to be more vigorous in the Premier League environment than in the general population.
Several clubs are organizing their own testing procedures. However, the physical rigors of the elite football environment also affect the players' immune systems, which have always made players susceptible to viruses: immunosuppressed, in medical language. Covid-19 is no different.
Players are known to share water bottles, which can increase the spread of viruses in clubs
Former Chelsea doctor, Dr. Eva Carneiro, says football players are immunosuppressed
Dr. Carneiro said that the level of pressure on football players' bodies makes them vulnerable
"Professional players are regularly shown to be immunosuppressed," former Chelsea doctor Dr. Eva Carneiro told Sportsmail. “This has been demonstrated by blood tests and the rate and incidence of the upper respiratory tract and other infections, and this is how a virus like this starts. This is due to the amount of sports they play. Physical activity, playing at a professional level, with games sometimes every 72 hours, as well as training, creates tension in the body. & # 39;
The risk is compounded by trips abroad. "This means that they need to enter the airport, even when traveling by private plane," adds Carneiro, who has been at Chelsea for six years and is now a sports medicine and exercise doctor at The Sports Medical Group on London's Harley Street. "Traveling can also mean a change in sleep patterns, coming back in the early hours of the morning, creating a tiredness that again can make players susceptible."
The relentless flurry of equipment has exposed players to more potential carriers than many in the general population. Arteta's diagnosis came less than 48 hours after the club announced several players and four employees were isolated after meeting Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis before the Europa League match in North London on 27 February.
Pep Guardiola, like many in football, is very tactile, which means that diseases can spread easily
The relentless turnover of equipment exposed players to more potential carriers than usual
Marinakis, who also owns Nottingham Forest and participated in Friday's match against Millwall, announced on Tuesday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. West Ham coach David Moyes was among those who retired on Friday, having come into direct contact with Arteta when his teams met on March 7.
But players also share locker rooms, meeting rooms, coaches, stay in the same hotels and – most significantly – dining rooms, eating regularly at the same time. "They are also part of families exposed to the large community," says Carneiro. & # 39; Fixtures also mean exposure to other teams, employees, nationalities, having these latest regular travel exhibitions, with different immunity profiles. & # 39;
Convincing members of the highly tactile player community that they can change their hygiene habits has always been notoriously difficult. Deficiencies in the immune system also make players susceptible to gastrointestinal viruses, which can be extremely infectious.
But while the medical team wants this individual to go into total isolation to prevent the spread of the disease, some teammates will want to visit. A negotiation process is necessary when, considering what is at stake if a virus passes through a team, the need for self-isolation seems obvious.
Dr. Carneiro says team travel commitments can also have a negative impact
Having to adapt to different time zones and conditions affects players' bodies
In addition, dressing rooms can be centers for the spread of viral diseases due to the proximity
"Culturally, it can be difficult to convince players and staff to change the behaviors that cause the spread of the infection, such as shaking hands and hugging," says Carneiro. & # 39; Although you may want a player to go into isolation, this is poorly tolerated and there is a natural desire by others not to want the individual to be isolated. This requires supervision and negotiation.
Attempts by club doctors to prevent spread are always rigorous at times of year when gastro bugs or seasonal flu prevail. Dr. Carneiro asked players to apply hand sanitizers to the team's coach as part of the fight to prevent illness.
Doctors think it is unclear whether, with increasing pressure on health care nationwide, Covid-19 tests will actually remain available for teams who wish to purchase them or whether they will be controlled for use in severe cases requiring hospitalization. hospital. .
"This time, it is not just doctors trained in infection control who are fighting the spread," says Carneiro. & # 39; This is something we have never seen before in football. But we are not dealing with an entity known here.
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