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Positive virus test result would not compromise events

NEWS STORY
06/05/2020

In a surprise move, the President of the FIA Institute, Gerard Saillant has said that if someone tested positive for the coronavirus at a Grand Prix this would not mean abandoning the event.

His claim comes at a time the sport is ramping up the rhetoric in terms of the proposed season opener, in Austria in July, and flies in the face of the events in Melbourne when the season opener was abandoned after just one person tested positive for the virus.

Following Ross Brawn's claim that those attending any races this year will be tested twice, Saillant says things have moved on since Melbourne.

"The situation has evolved," he tells L'Equipe. "We have provided a rapid response device to confirm the diagnosis, isolate and test people who have been in contact with a positive case.

"For me, the Grand Prix would not be cancelled," he insists. "It is as if you were telling me that the metro is closed because a traveller has been positively diagnosed there."

However, he admits: "What will happen in Austria may be different from what will happen in Germany or Hungary. Each country has different regulations, and the situation of the circuit, of the hotels, will also influence this confinement rule. If the track is in the countryside, things are different than if it is in a city.

"Singapore or Vietnam would have a completely different medical organisation if they had a grand prix to organise now," he added. "Already, the Singaporean government could force the entire paddock to be isolated for a fortnight before we can access the track. For Austria, it's different. The country is emerging from the crisis which, at home, has been relatively moderate. In this safe country, the rule of the game would be to do something in the even safer paddock."

Even stripped to the 'bare minimum', it's understood that the F1 biosphere at each event could involve upwards of two-thousand people.

"We are currently strengthening a great partnership with the International Red Cross in order to have, in addition to the usual medical cover, special COVID personnel.

"But the tests practised today may not be the same in July," he admits. "There is more and more talk of faster saliva tests to avoid immobilising a thousand people, of kits with results in a few minutes.

"With a Grand Prix behind closed doors, there is no need for hospitality. Those present will be in a ventilated, unconfined space, and will have been selected. If they leave the circuit, according to very strict rules, we will repeat the tests at a rate that remains to be defined by the local authorities and the WHO.

"Within this 'bubble', we are working with the legal department to set up, on a voluntary basis, an app which would make it possible to know what contact was made, less than a metre away, with someone positive."

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