Essendon AFL matches in doubt due to virus

Essendon are waiting for a decision on how many players and staff will be required to follow Conor McKenna into quarantine, after the Irish defender’s positive COVID-19 test.

McKenna returned a positive test on Saturday, forcing the scheduled Essendon-Melbourne match at the MCG on Sunday to be postponed indefinitely.

The Bombers’ immediate playing future is uncertain, with Saturday’s clash with Carlton no guarantee to proceed.

Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton on Sunday said the Department of Health and Human Services will advise “close contacts” of McKenna to go into quarantine for two weeks.

Exactly who those close contacts were is yet to be determined.

“The AFL already has an existing protocol that minimises the number of close contacts that any one player will have and they’ll implement that accordingly,” Professor Sutton said.

“But DHHS advice will be to quarantine all of those identified close contacts for two weeks from the time of exposure.”

Professor Sutton was unsure if that meant Essendon would be unable to play matches for the next 14 days.

The Bombers are scheduled to take on Collingwood on July 3.

“If that individual (McKenna) has trained with such a number that they won’t be able to play, then that’s how they will have to proceed,” Sutton said.

“But if they can manage with the existing player list, minus those close contacts, then they will proceed.

“I think they are still working up the close contact list.”

In the meantime, Carlton will prepare as normal in the hope the round four fixture against Essendon goes ahead as scheduled.

“You plan to play until you’re told otherwise; otherwise you’re on the back foot,” Blues forward Levi Casboult told the Sunday Footy Show.

“If we wait until Monday, there’s two days of recovery that you might not have done or whatever it is. We’re planning to play.”

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Saturday said the AFL season would continue, but he could not guarantee a return date for Essendon.

The AFL and health department are investigating McKenna’s movements in recent days to determine how and when the Irish defender contracted COVID-19.

McKenna returned from Ireland last month but officials believe he contracted the virus in Melbourne.

The 24-year-old had recorded seven negative tests before recording a “low level irregularity” after Friday’s training session.

He was retested on Saturday morning and returned a positive result.

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