UAE Tour: More coronavirus cases reported, team quarantines extended

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The count of coronavirus cases linked to the UAE Tour has increased to 12, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports, with four riders among those cases. Meanwhile, the teams currently on lockdown in Abu Dhabi are now set to stay there for some time longer.

The UAE Tour was halted five stages into the race after authorities announced that two team staff members had tested positive for coronavirus. Hundreds of riders, staff, and media members staying in one of two hotels in Abu Dhabi were subsequently put on lockdown. Since then, most have been cleared to leave, but four teams remain in quarantine in their hotel. The number of confirmed cases has risen over the past few days.

According to La Gazzetta, the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Health and Prevention now says there are 12 cases connected to the race, and of those 12 cases, four are riders. Two of those four riders are reportedly Russian, one is Italian, and one is Colombian. As of yet, none of the riders in question have been officially identified.

La Gazzetta reports that the Italian ambassador has seen some of the affected individuals, noting that those he visited were doing well.

In conjunction with the announcement of more positive tests was the news that the squads currently quarantined on the four floor of the team hotel – Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ, and Gazprom-Rusvelo – will remain in quarantine until March 14.

Cofidis released a statement on Wednesday acknowledging having finally been given some information regarding the status of its quarantined riders and staff. On Monday, Cofidis president Thierry Vittu had tweeted that the team was being “held hostage.” On Wednesday, he said the news of a definite end date for the quarantine was welcome.

“Of course, the deadline is far away (although it is only 10 days) but in a way, it’s a kind of relief,” Vittu said. “Indeed, as I have had the opportunity to say and write, what was difficult to live with so far was the absence of a deadline and the permanent wait for a close outcome that never came … It was a source of anxiety and stress.”

In the meantime, those on quarantine have tried to find ways to stay busy. Cofidis’s Nathan Haas has publicly appealed for a bike on which he might train during his extended stay in the hotel.

In their statements, both Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ said that none of the positive cases thus far have come from within their teams.

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