Staffordshire cricket club’s coronavirus outbreak linked to Prague stag do

A coronavirus outbreak involving a cricket club in Staffordshire has been linked back to a stag do in Prague.

The entrance to Barlaston Cricket Club. Photo: Google Maps
The entrance to Barlaston Cricket Club. Photo: Google Maps

Barlaston Cricket Club, near Stone, was forced to cancel a number of matches after two of its players tested positive for Covid-19.

It has now emerged that a total of five men contracted coronavirus during the weekend away.

Dr Richard Harling, Staffordshire County Council‘s director for health and care, told councillors: “We have had an outbreak associated with Barlaston Cricket Club. Infections were acquired by five individuals on a stag trip to Prague; one of whom came back and infected their wife.

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“The stag do was quite an interesting one. It looks like the index case, which is the first particular case in that outbreak, caught it in London. They then flew on a plane to Prague with 10 other people, spent a weekend doing whatever they were doing on this stag trip, and during that period the first individual managed to infect five other people who all then brought it back home.

“They should have quarantined. Instead they decided to have a game of cricket, so there we are. It goes to show we can’t rely on everyone acting responsibly all of the time and that’s really what this local outbreak plan is geared for.

“We are inevitably going to see some slips with people who don’t adhere to national guidance. Our job is to be able to catch them and to minimise the spread of the virus before it gets out of control.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is currently ‘advising against all but essential travel to the Czech Republic’.

Dr Harling added: “Quarantine for returning travellers is a system that relies almost entirely on trust, so we certainly don’t get told who’s returning from different countries or where they live.

"It relies on those individuals being responsible and if they are coming back from a country that requires 14 days of quarantine then they take themselves home and stay at home for 14 days.

“I don’t believe there is any enforcement of that by national bodies – we don’t know who they are. It’s up to those individuals to do it for themselves.”

In response, county councillor Sue Woodward said “That is an area of concern – Richard’s presentation referred to a stag do in Prague and that might be one incident where quarantining should have happened.

“But it’s very difficult for some people to quarantine, particularly if they are on low income and need to bring in the family income. Perhaps that’s an area where we should be lobbying the Government more, just to ensure there is greater compliance with quarantine being imposed.”

Councillor Ian Parry, who represents the Stone Rural ward, including Barlaston, said: “It does seem as if we are in a response mode to dealing with the threat and I think we will all have seen that the increase in infection rates is generally among young people.

“It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a lot of this may be connected with parts of the hospitality sector that are probably not sticking to the rules and people visiting certain places that are also not sticking to the rules.

“If you go to town centres at night you can see groups of young people all on their way out and you can spot places that clearly don’t have social distancing and are not Covid-compliant.”

Club issues statement

In a statement today, Barlaston Cricket Club's management committee said: "The event was not a Club event but a personal event involving some of our members and non-members. It took place between Tuesday 25 August and Friday 28 August.

"The FCO did not advise against all non-essential travel to the Czech Republic until 27 August which was after the departure date.

"The party returned at 9pm on Friday 28 August. The Czech Republic was removed from the exempt list at 4am on Saturday 29 August 2020. When the party returned on 28 August there was no requirement to self-isolate for 14 days.

"There were 17 on the trip of which 4 became infected by the index case and, of those, 3 played cricket on Saturday 29 August. The third positive test was recorded after our earlier statement due to the player undertaking a second test. They were entitled to take part in the games because there was no requirement to self-isolate. None of those who played cricket were showing any COVID symptoms before playing the game on Saturday. The Club became aware that the index case (a non-playing member) based in London tested positive on Sunday because he had taken a test due to work requirements. After this, all players were tested as a precaution and our game on the Sunday was immediately cancelled.

"Had players been showing COVID specific symptoms, they would have isolated. We strongly refute the statement that rules were broken and the insinuation that players were selected with specific COVID symptoms.

"Any person who returned a positive test, or those in close contact with them, has followed the isolation guidelines immediately.

"The cricket club is disappointed, having co-operated fully with all relevant authorities, and ensuring its members followed all local and national guidance, that confidential information has been given to the Press, which is inaccurate and which leads the readers to believe that the Club and its members have engaged in an unlawful activity with no regard or respect for it or their actions or the consequences of those actions."

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