PBA ref negative for COVID

    Athlete's Village in New Clark City (PNA Photo)

    THE COVID-19 pandemic is trying to prick the PBA bubble in Pampanga but the pro league, thanks to its strict health protocols, is holding its ground, for now.

    A referee who had been with the PBA contingent since action restarted in the Philippine Cup last Oct. 11 who was considered as a suspected COVID-19 case yesterday later tested negative.

    In a joint statement, the PBA, BCDA, and CDC said the referee who was earlier reported to be a “suspect(ed) case” may be a case of false positive after the conduct of antigen testing Wednesday afternoon yielded negative on the presence of the COVID-19.

    “As announced earlier, all games are allowed to continue as scheduled but with stricter measures at the Quest Hotel and Angeles University Foundation Arena. The continued cooperation of all participants is key in ensuring that the resumption of PBA’s 45th Season is safe and COVID-free,” the league added.

    The referee, whose identity was not revealed, will remain on strict 14-day quarantine at the Athletes’ Village at the New Clark City and will be subjected to another RT-PCR test to confirm the negative antigen result. All of the eight persons listed as the referees’ close contacts were also isolated within 12 hours. They will undergo another round of RT-PCR tests on Saturday, Oct. 24.

    Part of the league’s heightened protocols t ordered to be implemented was the restriction of movements of officials, players, media and all other persons inside the bubble. Unnecessary gatherings outside of team practices are also prohibited.

    As part of restriction, all activities like swimming, gym, jogging, among others, were temporarily suspended for the decontamination of the bubble facilities. Suspension of activities will be lifted Thursday.

    “We would like to assure the public that the integrity of the bubble has not been compromised. Protocols have not been breached,” the PBA said, adding the movement of persons in the bubble is being monitored by StaySafe.Ph, the official contact tracing app for the PBA Bubble.

    Sixteen referees joined the PBA bubble last Oct. 11 but one of them has been sent home for making the “wrong call” in the game between NorthPort and Rain or Shine last Sunday.

    Malaya-Business Insight learned yesterday that only eight referees are set to officiate up to Saturday at least. The rest have been told to isolate themselves, having been in contact with the suspected case.

    A statement earlier issued by the league said the referee was tested last Monday along with 27 others and their tests all came out negative.

    The latest test was the game official’s fourth and his second inside the bubble. He was allowed to enter the PBA contingent’s billeting area at the Clark Freeport Zone after he tested negative in two previous tests. The big question is how he got the virus, if indeed he has it.

    Under the Department of Health guidelines issued last April, a suspect case, differentiated from a probable or confirmed case, is:

    1) A person with severe acute respiratory illness – fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher, cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, and may even include severe pneumonia – whose cause is undetermined prior to testing for the coronavirus and;

    2) A person with influenza-like illness – fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher, and cough or sore throat – and who lives in or has traveled to an area that reported local transmission of the coronavirus during the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms.