The Chief Health Officer for Victoria says a positive test for COVID-19 within the Formula 1 paddock could result in a call to effectively shut down the Australian GP.
Five members of the Formula 1 paddock are currently awaiting test results for the coronavirus, having presented with symptoms of COVID-19 on Wednesday. One is from McLaren, with a further four from Haas – all are currently self-isolating in their hotels while they await their test results.
However, if any of these personnel are confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, it has implications for the teams as other personnel who were in contact with them would need to be tested and quarantined – reducing the crew size for the affected teams.
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on Wednesday.
Chief Health Officer for Victoria state is Brett Sutton, who told Melbourne radio station 3AW: “I think for these three crew members, if they turn up positive, we need to consider what it means for their close contacts and if they have a number of close contacts across a number of crews, then those individuals need to be quarantined.”
“If that effectively shuts down the race, then so be it, we’ll make that call.”
“I’m aware that there’s a crew who are unwell and in isolation who have tests pending.” continued Sutton. “It’ll depend on those tests. If they are all negative, if everyone else who’s got symptoms is negative and hasn’t exposed other crew, then I say that they can carry on. But if there are positive crew and they’ve exposed a number of others, then all of those contacts need to be in quarantine. So it’ll be a question of whether the teams have the operational staff to continue.
“If these particular tests are being held up and we can’t get a result … I will follow up to make sure that there is a result today because we do need to them to know the implications for all of the other crew,” he said.
If there are positive tests then I’ll be directly involved with the Australian Grand Prix CEO and with the organisers about what the next steps need to be taken and what the implications are.”
While the organisers try to continue with the Australian Grand Prix on a normal schedule, next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix will take place without spectators as a TV-only event. The following race, scheduled in Vietnam, is uncertain as Vietnamese authorities tightened travel restrictions and entry rules for the country this week – Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey was in Hanoi on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments with the race promoters.
The scheduled fourth round of the championship, in Shanghai, has already been postponed indefinitely.