SARS-CoV-2 transmission during rugby league matches: Do players become infected after participating with SARS-CoV-2 positive players?

Ben Jones, Gemma Phillips, Simon Kemp, Brendan Payne, Brian Hart, Matthew Cross, Keith A. Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: To examine the interactions between SARS-CoV-2 positive players and other players during rugby league matches and determine within-match SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk. Methods: Four Super League matches in which SARS-CoV-2 positive players were subsequently found to have participated were analysed. Players were identified as increased-risk contacts, and player interactions and proximities were analysed by video footage and global positioning system (GPS) data. The primary outcome was new positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 within 14 days of the match in increased-risk contacts and other players participating in the matches. Results: Out of 136 total players, there were 8 SARS-CoV-2 positive players, 28 players identified as increased-risk contacts and 100 other players in the matches. Increased-risk contacts and other players were involved in 11.4±9.0 (maximum 32) and 4.0±5.2 (maximum 23) tackles, respectively. From GPS data, increased-risk contacts and other players were within 2 m of SARS-CoV-2 positive players on 10.4±18.0 (maximum 88) and 12.5±20.7 (maximum 121) occasions, totalling 65.7±137.7 (maximum 689) and 89.5±169.4 (maximum 1003) s, respectively. Within 14 days of the match, one increased-risk contact and five players returned positive SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) tests, and 27 increased-risk contacts and 95 other participants returned negative SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests. Positive cases were most likely traced to social interactions, car sharing and wider community transmission and not linked to in-match transmission. Conclusion: Despite tackle involvements and close proximity interactions with SARS-CoV-2 positive players, in-match SARS-CoV-2 transmission was not confirmed. While larger datasets are needed, these findings suggest rugby presents a lower risk of viral transmission than previously predicted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbjsports-2020-103714
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date11 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • community
  • COVID-19
  • infection
  • sport
  • virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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