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20 positive hotel staff tests result in Cape Town change for Lions

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Warren Gatland has revealed the challenging level of Covid that spread among staff at the Lions squad hotel in Johannesburg, an outbreak that has resulted in them demanding changes regarding the staff at their next hotel in Cape Town where they will be arriving on Sunday.


The Lions camp was thrown into chaos on Wednesday when it emerged that one of their own staff members had tested positive for the virus while one player also tested positive, an outcome that eventually became a false negative after he passed all of his subsequent tests.

With their opening two matches in Johannesburg and another in Pretoria now played, the Lions will fly to Cape Town on Sunday for their next three tour matches. There is also an increasing possibility that the second and third Test matches currently scheduled for Johannesburg will be switched to Cape Town to reduce the risk of Covid infection associated with going back to the Gauteng region where the spread is more contagious.  

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RugbyPass Fanzone on whether the Lions tour will be cancelled
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RugbyPass Fanzone on whether the Lions tour will be cancelled

That venue switch decision has yet to confirmed but what the Lions have already insisted on is a change in the working arrangements of the staff at the hotel they will be staying at in Cape Town in order to lessen the risk of another outbreak in their camp. 

“We are not doing anything different,” said Gatland about the Lions and the virus precautions they have taken amongst themselves. “We have been very stringent in the way that we have applied what the medical team and the guidelines have set out to us. 

“The big challenge was we arrived at the hotel the first day and twelve of the staff members had tested positive and then a couple of days later another five and then a couple of days after that another two and then another one. That has been a bit of a challenge for us from that regard and that is what we have requested for Cape Town, that the hotel staff staying onsite come in early and are tested regularly as well. 


“The risk isn’t really with us. It’s any engagement with anyone else. We are trying to keep that as tight as we possibly can but we can’t really control some of those other aspects. We are doing our best to do that and made sure that all those hotel staff are in early and tested regularly and are onsite so they are not going home to their families. They are staying in our bubble even though we are definitely keeping our distance and are not interacting with the hotel staff.”

Gatland added that not everyone in the Lions party will be flying to Cape Town on Sunday. “Just one player is being left behind and four staff members and they will join up with us on Wednesday. We were tested yesterday [Friday] and everyone was negative and we were tested again today and everyone was negative.

“One of the things we had right from the start of the tour was we spoke about there is going to be some chaos and there has been chaos and it’s about adapting to that and then changing. That has been the mantra and we were able to handle that in the week. I see it as a positive, that anything that is thrown at us doesn’t upset us… if anything else happens on the tour that is chaotic as this week has been it would probably surprise me.”



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