'Super Spreader' NBA players test positive for coronavirus

AFP
A woman walks her dog past a deserted Staples Center in Los Angeles, California as the Los Angeles Lakers announced that two of their players have tested positive for the coronavirus (AFP Photo/Frederic J. BROWN)
A woman walks her dog past a deserted Staples Center in Los Angeles, California as the Los Angeles Lakers announced that two of their players have tested positive for the coronavirus (AFP Photo/Frederic J. BROWN)

New York (AFP) - Two members of the Los Angeles Lakers have tested positive for the new coronavirus on Thursday as the Philadelphia 76ers also confirmed that three of their players had contracted the disease.

The Lakers said they tested their players because on March 10 they played the Brooklyn Nets, who had four players previously test positive for the virus. The Lakers said team doctors are closely monitoring the two players.

"We learned today that two Lakers players have tested positive," said Lakers spokesperson Alison Bogli in a news release. "Both players are currently asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of the team’s physician.

"All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team."

The Sixers said the positive cases were uncovered after health authorities warned that certain players, coaches and support staff may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Like the Sixers, the Lakers declined to name the players who tested positive.

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets also announced positive tests on Thursday for COVID-19.

On Wednesday, commissioner Adam Silver said NBA players should be considered "super spreaders" of the disease. Silver's comments came amid criticism that wealthy athletes are getting tested for the virus ahead of critically ill patients in American hospitals.

The Sixers said their three individuals were in self-isolation while being monitored by medical professionals.

"Three individuals have received positive test results for COVID-19," the Sixers said. "All other tests results are currently negative. We have reported this information to state and local health authorities as required."

"The health of our players, staff, fans and community is paramount, and we continue to be guided by medical experts at this time," the team said.

Also, the Celtics said Thursday at least one player tested positive as part of a series of tests they are conducting on their team. Immediately after the Celtics announcement, guard Smart revealed he had tested positive.

Smart said he was tested five days ago and got the results back on Thursday night.

"What's up everyone," said Smart in a video on his Twitter account. "So I just found out I tested positive for the coronavirus. I am OK. I feel fine. I don't feel any of the symptoms.

"Help protect others by protecting yourself."

- More tests coming -

The Celtics said Smart would continue to be isolated.

"The testing was initiated because of exposure to a known positive case," a Celtics spokesman said. "The team is awaiting further testing results and will communicate them as appropriate."

Earlier, the Denver Nuggets said one member of the organisation had tested positive, but did not specify whether the person was a player.

"The person, who was tested after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 on March 16th, is currently under the care of team medical staff and in self-isolation," the team said.

These are just the latest NBA players to test positive for COVID-19 since Utah's Rudy Gobert was confirmed to have contracted the disease last week, prompting the league to impose an indefinite suspension on play.

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