IN ACTION: A host of athletes. Picture: Geoff Potter.
IN ACTION: A host of athletes. Picture: Geoff Potter.

Mooloolaba Triathlon athlete tests positive to coronavirus

A COMPETITOR from the Mooloolaba Triathlon has tested positive for COVID-19, following the event.

The mass participation race was held on Sunday, a day before the Federal Government restricted gatherings of more than 500 people.

Concerned athletes have been informed the infected athlete was in the 50-plus age group, which started at 7.38am on Sunday. 

"Race officials for the Mooloolaba Triathlon were notified by a medical official at Sunshine Coast Public Health that a 2020 race participant has, after the event, tested positive for COVID-19," a Mooloolaba Triathlon statement said.

"Organisers were informed by the medical official that the athlete had no symptoms at the event, and that there was a very low risk of transmission at the event. The athlete's identity was not shared with race organisers."

About 3000 participants were involved in the triathlon, which was part of the three-day Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival, which also involved elite competitors on Saturday.

Among the competitors was Maroochydore's Alex Atzori, who said he was going to get tested "first thing" on Friday, in case he had contracted the virus.

"I'm going, mainly because (of) my wife (Jo). She had chemo last year from breast cancer and I want to tick off, that I don't have it, and not bring further risk into the household."

"So, it's important for me to go and get tested, I'm going first thing in the morning."

The 41-year-old expected some fellow athletes to do the same.

"I know there are a few people in our squad who have got family members who are recovering form sickness or are regularly with elderly people, so you'd think they'd get the check-up just to tick the box, to make sure they haven't got it as well."

Atzori said he had been determined to compete on Sunday.

"I was (scheduled) do Ironman Australia (in May) so I just wanted to get a race in."

"So, I was grateful still to race and that was the risk I was willing to take."

Queensland Health did not disclose information about the race participant on Thursday afternoon "due to patient confidentiality" and a spokesman said only those who have had prolonged face-to-face contact with confirmed cases are at risk of getting the virus.

There were 144 cases in Queensland by Thursday afternoon, with several from the Sunshine Coast.

"We understand members of the community might feel concerned about the recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their area," the spokesperson said.

"Only those who are considered as a close contact to these cases need to be aware and cautious. These people will be contacted directly by our public health clinicians."

"In an instance where individuals have had direct close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, and Queensland Health cannot locate them individually, we will issue a public health alert."

"When defining a close contact, it's important to note that we are not looking for people the person may have passed on the street or in a shop, as the risk in these situations is extremely low.

"Only those who have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed case, for a period over 15 minutes or those who have shared an enclosed space with a confirmed case for a prolonged period of more than two hours are considered as a close contact."

Last week, the IRONMAN Group released a statement regarding their efforts to safeguard fans and athletes at their events worldwide, to officially come into effect from March 19.

"The decision to proceed, restrict, modify or postpone an event will be based on availability of community resources and ongoing event-specific risk assessment in co-ordination with the relevant healthcare and government authorities and the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, an independent medical advisory board focused on health and safety," the statement read.

"For events that will continue, The IRONMAN Group, along with the IRONMAN Global Medical Advisory Board, has outlined a series of pragmatic and practical actions designed to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 or any other infectious agent to athletes and to members of our host communities."

Among those actions are handwashing stations and sanitation stations at venues, while handshake behaviour is also not encouraged. Athletes planning to travel by plane or rail are encouraged to avoid travelling post-event for 24 hours, allowing their immune system time to recover post-race.

Mooloolaba Triathlon organisers stressed a need to practise good hygiene, referring athletes to the World Health Organisation's recommendations.


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