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PBA confirms another COVID-19 case inside bubble

Ian Suyu

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CLARK — A player from Blackwater has tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) inside the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) bubble, the league confirmed on Sunday.

Commissioner Willie Marcial announced the second case of the infectious disease following the results of RT-PCR swab testing conducted within the team last 22 October. Last week, a game official tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Marcial, the said player has already been sent for stricter isolation in the Athletes’ Village in Capas, Tarlac early Sunday morning and scheduled to undergo rapid antigen testing and another set of RT-PCR/ swab test.

Meanwhile, the entire Blackwater team, staff and those who had close contact with the squad including the Elite’s last opponent, TNT Tropang Giga, were put under isolation.

The Elite’s scheduled game against Rain or Shine Sunday afternoon was cancelled.

“BCDA secretary Vince Dizon has already instructed the entire team of Blackwater to undergo isolation, including their close contacts,” said Marcial.

“We are now putting up stricter measures, we don’t want to be very relaxed because we want to investigate the origin of the cases.”

However, other Blackwater players are yet to undergo similar procedure as experts deemed that it is still early before the virus can be detected.

“The other players, we cannot test them right now with RT-PCR because it is too early. But we will test them using antigen in the coming days,” said PBA medical consultant Dr. George Canlas.

Meanwhile, Canlas confirmed that the referee who was initially identified as the first case inside the bubble has already tested negative on his latest swab result.

The said referee, who was reported as the first COVID-19 case inside the bubble, will still spend his remaining quarantine period in Tarlac, until the PBA decides to take the game official back inside the bubble.

Despite the issues faced by the league, Dizon defended that the bubble is still safe, citing previous occurrences from other leagues abroad such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) in the United States.

“The bubble hasn’t been breached. These have already happened in the NBA and NFL bubble, we are no different from those cases,” said Dizon.

“The index case (referee) proved to be negative. What’s more important is we have stricter protocols to address this issue.”

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