English Premier League witnesses surge in Covid-19 cases with 77% of players double jabbed
By Kevin Dotson and Ben Church, CNN
Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT) December 21, 2021
Aston Villa's match against Burnley was postponed due to Covid-19 at the weekend.
(CNN)The English Premier League has seen a sharp rise in new Covid-19 cases among players as the Omicron variant continues its rapid spread through Britain.
From December 13 to December 19, the league reported 90 new positive cases, more than twice the total of positive tests the week before (42).
Prior to that, the league saw just 100 positive tests in the four months between August 2 and December 5.
The league says 77% of its players are currently vaccinated with two doses, which is considered fully vaccinated under current government guidance.
However, scientists have underlined the importance of a third booster jab in successfully combating Omicron.
The vaccination rate in England for 25-29 year-olds is 78.5% -- the average age of a Premier League player is 26.9 years-old.
The league said 84% of players are currently on the "vaccination journey," having to wait the required time between jabs.
The United Kingdom reported 91,743 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the second-highest figure since the beginning of the pandemic, according to government data. That is up from 82,886 cases on Sunday.
The UK also reported 44 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Monday, bringing the death toll to 147,261 since the pandemic began.
Chelsea's match against Wolves was one of the few Premier League games to go ahead this weekend.
'Proceeding with caution'
The Premier League also announced on Monday that fixtures over the festive period will go ahead as planned despite a number of clubs experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks among players and staff -- 10 matches have already been postponed this month as a result.
The decision was made following a virtual meeting of all 20 clubs and the league.
"The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution," said a Premier League statement.
"The League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff, as well as promoting the Government's public health vaccination messaging to clubs and the wider public."
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Premier League clubs are now working under new Covid-19 protocols, which require them to follow rules such as wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time.
The league also increased lateral flow and PCR testing of players and staff.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has encouraged players and the wider society to get vaccinated and says people have a moral obligation to do so.
"It's a question of persuading. I think mandatory, from a moral point of view, it should be mandatory for each person I think, but not from a legal point of view," he told reporters.
"I don't see that but, from a moral point of view, because if I can do something that helps the people around me. Obviously people see that differently."
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Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers has also urged people to get fully vaccinated.
The club tweeted a picture on Monday of manager Bruno Lage and captain Conor Coady getting boosted.
"Everyone in our building is fully vaccinated, which is the right thing to do, especially with the increase in positive cases in the Premier League and wider society," Lage said.
Each Premier League team is now set to play three times between December 26 and January 3 in what is traditionally the busiest period of fixtures in the domestic league calendar.