PBA: Games to push through after referee tests positive

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2020 02:43 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2020 05:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- (2nd UPDATE) Games of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup will push through even after a league official tested positive for COVID-19, commissioner Willie Marcial announced on Wednesday.

A referee has been tagged as a suspected positive case after the results of his RT-PCR test was revealed on Tuesday night. 

The referee was tested last Monday along with 27 others, all of whom produced negative results. It was the referee's fourth COVID-19 test and his second inside the bubble. His previous three tests all came out negative.

Government health standards consider a positive RT PCR test a confirmed case.

Marcial, in a briefing on One News, said the official was extracted from the PBA bubble in Clark, Pampanga at 7 a.m. Wednesday and brought to the Athlete's Village, which serves as a quarantine facility.

"Pagdating doon, mamayang hapon, ite-test ulit siya tapos io-observe kung anong mangyayari," said Marcial.

The referee is showing no symptoms, according to a statement from the league. 

Eric Castro, the PBA's deputy commissioner, said the referee will take a confirmatory test at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, they are conducting contact tracing and those who came into close contact with the referee have been isolated.

These include other members of the officiating crew. Meanwhile, the Alaska Aces and the Blackwater Elite are under strict monitoring by the Clark Development Corporation, according to Castro in an interview on One Sports.

The game official will undergo a 14-day quarantine and will need to produce two negative tests before he can re-enter the PBA bubble. 

This marks the first suspected positive test within the PBA bubble in Clark, where more than 300 personnel -- including all 12 teams, referees, league officials, and media -- are housed at the Quest Hotel.

Marcial assured that the bubble remains safe and that games can continue.

"Tuloy ang mga games natin. Pinayagan tayo ng dumiretso ng game," he said. "As of now, sinuspend lang namin ang mga activities dito sa hotel katulad ng gym, ng swimming pool."

Those areas will be disinfected, but can be used again by Thursday, according to the commissioner.

"'Yun ang mga precaution na ginawa natin. Huwag po kayo mag-alala. Ginagawa po namin ang lahat, protection ng mga players at ng buong delegates po dito," said Marcial.

"Makakaasa po kayo. Gagawin po namin lahat para maging successful itong bubble na 'to," he added.

Castro backed him up, saying: "I'm reassuring the public, the families of all the players na safe po, at tuloy po ang laban natin dito." 

The league brought 16 referees inside the bubble, eight of whom will continue to officiate games. The others who were in close contact with the referee who tested positive have been isolated and will be tested again on Saturday.