Ulster Rugby have issued a statement following a COVID-19 outbreak in their academy, and have identified at least one senior player who may have been exposed.

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The statement reads: “Ulster Rugby is assisting a group of Academy players after a number of COVID-19 cases were identified within the Academy squad.

“As soon as the cases were identified, Ulster Rugby immediately stood down all training of both the Academy and Senior squads and sought to identify any potential close contacts. All individuals potentially exposed to the virus have already commenced self-isolating.

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“The Public Health Authority (PHA) has been contacted, and the contact tracing process has started, in line with public health advice.”

Ulster Rugby Medical Director, Michael Webb, said: “Following confirmation of multiple Academy players testing positive for COVID-19, we are closely following public health advice in line with the IRFU’s Return to Play protocols. As a result, we have taken a number of precautionary measures as we await the results of further testing. We are supporting the individuals involved and all will continue to be medically monitored.

“Our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff, and we will continue to work closely with both the IRFU and PHA as we look to make a safe and measured return to rugby.”

One senior squad member has been identified as a potential contact and is already self-isolating. Routine PCR testing, part of the IRFU’s Return to Play protocols, took place with the Senior squad today, with results due to be released tomorrow in line with existing processes in place from previous testing rounds.

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Given this is a confidential health matter for the individuals involved, Ulster Rugby will not be making any further comment at this stage.

In other news, Alan O’Connor and James Hume sustained concussions in the Round 14 fixture against Connacht, and both will follow the Return To Play protocols.

Rob Herring sustained a chest wall injury in training last week, and subsequently failed a fitness test pre-game on Sunday. He is expected to be fit for selection this week.

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