As many as 13 Celtic players, as well as manager Neil Lennon and assistant coach John Kennedy have been forced into isolation as a result of close contact with one player who has tested positive for coronavirus upon their return from a recent training camp in Dubai.
Celtic spent almost a week doing warm weather winter training in the wealthy gulf state, but centre-back Christopher Jullien tested positive after returning to Scotland.
The Scottish champions have confirmed that all other members of the squad and coaching staff have returned negative tests, but the rules dictate that Lennon, Kennedy and 13 players have to now enter a period of precautionary isolation.
A statement from the club read, “The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.“
The club insists that the protocols in place have previously served them well and the squad ‘bubble’ hasn’t been compromised at all until Jullien’s test. Celtic also argue that a positive test was just as likely had the squad remained in Scotland as a result of other cases at other clubs.
The isolation comes into effect on the same day that Celtic will play Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. That game, scheduled to kick off at 7.45pm on Monday night, will go ahead, despite Lennon’s first-team squad being obliterated and the boss himself unable to lead the team.
Celtic have expressed thanks to the ‘Scottish FA, JRG and the Scottish Government for their assistance in managing this case’.
As of Sunday night, anyone returning to Scotland from Dubai since 3 January is being asked to isolate for ten days, although Celtic were already in Dubai when that announcement was initially made. But because the club’s trip was for work purposes, elite sporting status grants exemption.