Essendon are waiting for a decision on how many players and staff will be required to follow Conor McKenna into quarantine, after the Irish defender’s positive COVID-19 test.
- Close contacts of Conor McKenna will have to quarantine for 14 days
- Essendon are set to play Carlton on Saturday June 27 and Collingwood on July 3
- Officials believe McKenna contracted the virus in Melbourne, not Ireland
McKenna returned a positive test on Saturday, forcing the scheduled Essendon-Melbourne match at the MCG on Sunday to be postponed indefinitely.
The Bombers’ immediate playing future is uncertain, with Saturday’s clash with Carlton no guarantee to proceed.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the Department of Health and Human Services was advising “close contacts” of McKenna to go into quarantine for two weeks.
Exactly who those close contacts are is yet to be determined.
“The AFL already has an existing protocol that minimises the number of close contacts that any one player will have, and they’ll implement that accordingly,” Professor Sutton said.
“But DHHS advice will be to quarantine all of those identified close contacts for two weeks from the time of exposure.”
Professor Sutton was unsure if that meant Essendon would be unable to play matches for the next 14 days.
The Bombers are scheduled to take on Collingwood on July 3.
“If that individual [McKenna] has trained with such a number that they won’t be able to play, then that’s how they will have to proceed,” Professor Sutton said.
In the meantime, Carlton will prepare as normal in the hope the round four fixture against Essendon goes ahead as scheduled, with Marc Pittonet telling ABC Grandstand he would have no hesitation in playing against the Bombers.
“Not at all, we’ve been told to prepare mentally and physically for that game,” Pitonett said.
“We don’t have a lot of information right now, so we’re trusting the people above to make decisions.”
Blues forward Levi Casboult told the Sunday Footy Show they had to prepare as normal due to the tight turnaround.
“If we wait until Monday, there’s two days of recovery that you might not have done or whatever it is. We’re planning to play.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Saturday said the AFL season would continue, but he could not guarantee a return date for Essendon.
The AFL and health department are investigating McKenna’s movements in recent days to determine how and when the Irish defender contracted COVID-19.
McKenna returned from Ireland last month but officials believe he contracted the virus in Melbourne.
The 24-year-old had recorded seven negative tests since his return to before recording a “low level irregularity” after Friday’s training session.
He was retested on Saturday morning and returned a positive result.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury told ABC Grandstand the positive test was somewhat inevitable at some point, and that it showed players still had to abide by the AFL’s restrictions.
“Firstly you just hope [Conor] is OK, and that he doesn’t get too sick or ill from a positive result.
“I think it’s something we knew was going to happen eventually with so many players and so much testing done.
“The restrictions that we are under as players are pretty tight.
“This weekend’s example probably gives us a good reminder as to why the AFL have to be so strict with our protocols.”