City’s Southampton game is on but government to weigh up banning major sporting events as coronavirus spreads
PUBLISHED: 18:22 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 23:45 12 March 2020
Norwich City’s Premier League home game against Southampton will go ahead – but the government have signalled banning sporting events is an option to deal with coronavirus.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday afternoon the UK faces the 'worst public health crisis in a generation', after outlining the government's response had moved to the 'delay' phase to cope with the global pandemic.
The Premier League has been carrying out contingency planning, while Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers revealed earlier in the day three members of his squad have started to self-isolate after showing symptoms of the virus.
The Canaries issued a wide-ranging public advisory note earlier this week instructing fans heading to Carrow Road to take all suitable precautions.
But this weekend's top flight fixtures are scheduled to go ahead as planned.
City head coach Daniel Farke will be pressed for his reaction to the latest developments at Colney on Friday lunchtime when he holds his scheduled pre-match press call.
Johnson, however, made it clear cancelling major sporting events could be part of the government's on going approach.
'We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures,' he said, speaking at Downing Street. 'The scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread - but it does place a burden on other public services. We are guided by the science; there is no medical reason at the moment to ban such events.
'We are not saying no to that sort of measure, we are keeping it up our sleeves. But it is very, very important in order to maximise our interventions that we get the timing right.'
Johnson was joined by scientific experts in a press briefing.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance added cancelling sporting events is not a 'major way to tackle this epidemic'.
'Of course there is a risk,' he said. 'But on average one person infects two or three others.
'You therefore have a very low probability of infecting a large number of people in a stadium, or a rather higher probability of infecting people very close to you, and that means most of the transmission tends to takes place with friends and colleagues in close environments, not in the big environments.
'It is true that any cancellations of things can have some effect (but) if you then get a displacement activity, when everyone congregates somewhere else, you may have perversely an increased risk, particularly in an indoors environment.
'So it doesn't mean you should at some point make the decision for the resilience point that has been discussed, but this is not a major way to tackle this epidemic.
'The major ways are to try and reduce and delay the transmission across households and people who have become infected and that why that is the concentration of the first actions.'
Top flight football in Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United States has been suspended amid the outbreak.
Manchester City's Champions League last-16 second leg tie against Real Madrid, due to take place on Tuesday, has been postponed.
The Madrid players are now in isolation after a Real Madrid basketball player tested positive for Covid-19. The two clubs share some of the same training facilities in Madrid.
Meanwhile European football's governing body Uefa has called an emergency meeting for Tuesday in which the possibility of postponing Euro 2020 by one year is set to be discussed.