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DFL responds to Regensburg infections, defends existing Hygiene-Concept

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

he postponement of Tuesday's DFB-Pokal fixture between SSV Jahn Regensburg and SV Werder Bremen exploded in front page news after it was rumored that four of the eight players testing positive for COVID were said to carry the more contagious variant identified recently in the U.K.

German public television program ARD Sportschau contacted the Regensburg health department to verify that this was, in fact, true.

Late Tuesday, the DFL issued a response to the finding.
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Photo: Granada, CC-by-SA 4.0
The fact that four players are infected with what has become known as the "British variant" of the novel coronavirus understandably causes concerns amongst citizens of the Bundesrepublik. The country, which lags behind most of the developed world in inoculations, maintains strict travel bans both to and from the U.K. 

Despite some of the sensationalism surrounding the story, the organization responsible for the administration of Germany's top two football tiers (DFL) stands by the Hygiene Concept in use since the beginning of the pandemic. Prof Dr. Tim Meyer issued a statement on Tuesday evening explaining why the discovery did not necessitate any additional measures.

"The recognized medical hygiene concept, which has already been further adjusted several times, continues to be the basis for match operations," Dr. Meyer noted, "We are nevertheless, of course, closely monitoring current developments such as mutations."

"A high level of discipline from all those involved remains essential," Dr. Meyer continued, "Here it is important to analyze the situation carefully as individual cases have special features and often do not require the implementation of stringent concepts."

Many footballers playing in Germany's professional tiers have been infected with the virus over the past year of the pandemic. In the second and third tiers, some matches have been postponed during the beginning of the second wave. In some cases, contact tracers ordered full teams and staffs into quarantine.

A very important aspect of team quarantines concerns the fact that, in no cases, did contact tracers working at health departments deem a full 14-day-quarantine necessary. Dr. Meyer emphasized this in his statement as well.

"With consistent implementation and the appropriate execution of all measures in the concept, the imposition of blanket team quarantines is generally not necessary," Dr. Meyer wrote.

The question as to whether the new strain of the virus is actually more deadly is not something for which sufficient scientific data exists yet. The variant has been proven to be more contagious.

Clinical trials for a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine just released in the United States, which has the benefit of being tested against all new mutations, suggest that they decrease the efficacy of vaccines somewhat, but that inoculations still prevent life-threatening infections in all cases.

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