March 17, 2020 / 2:40 AM / 18 days ago

Valencia say 35% of squad, staff tested positive for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Valencia v Atalanta - Mestalla, Valencia, Spain - March 10, 2020 A general view outside the stadium ahead of the match which will be played behind closed doors while the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world REUTERS/Susana Vera

(Reuters) - La Liga side Valencia have said more than a third of their playing and backroom staff have tested positive for the coronavirus but that all cases were currently asymptomatic.

The club had reported five cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay and France’s Eliaquim Mangala both confirming they were among those who had contracted the virus.

"Several further tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus amongst Valencia coaching staff and players have come back positive," the club said in a statement here

Valencia traveled to Milan last month for a Champions League match against Atalanta, which was played in front of a packed San Siro stadium, before restrictions were placed on sports events in Italy — the worst-hit country in Europe.

“Despite the strict measures adopted by the club after their Champions League game ... these latest results show the exposure inherent to such matches has caused a positive test rate of around 35%,” Valencia added.

“All cases are asymptomatic and those involved are currently isolated at home, receiving medical assessment and carrying out their scheduled training plan.”

The flu-like virus has wiped out the international sporting calendar, with the big five soccer leagues in Europe — England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France — as well as the Champions League and Europa League all suspended.

The coronavirus has infected almost 180,000 people and killed over 7,000 worldwide.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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