The coronavirus outbreak has thrown Australian grand prix preparations into chaos. Image by Michael Dodge/AAP PHOTOS

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More F1 coronavirus tests amid sport chaos

2020-03-12 17:47:13

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says money is being put ahead of health at the Australian Grand Prix as sporting codes scramble to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Eight F1 staff are awaiting results of tests for the potentially deadly virus on a day the NBA announced the suspension of its competition.

F1 team Haas says two more of its crew were isolated on Thursday after reporting feeling unwell. The team now has four possible coronavirus cases.

Another staffer from McLaren and three more crew from unnamed teams are also waiting on test results ahead of the grand prix due to start on Friday.

“I am really very surprised that we are here,” Hamilton told reporters at the Albert Park circuit on Thursday.

“For me it is shocking that we are all sitting in this (press conference) room.

“It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late … the NBA is being suspended and F1 continues to go on.

“Cash is king but I really don’t know.”

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen said test results on F1 staffers were expected later Thursday.

Any recommendation to cancel the grand prix would hinge on the results, she said.

The testing comes come as Australia’s major football codes take escalating action to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus.

In rugby league, the NRL has ordered all players to limit community appearances and avoid shaking hands with fans.

League officials were briefing all 16 club bosses just hours before the NRL season kicks off with the season-opener between Parramatta and Canterbury.

The league had directed clubs to halt players taking selfies with fans after matches and not take pens from fans to sign autographs.

AFL club Richmond has effectively shut its doors to visitors and told staff to work from home in a bid to protect players from the virus ahead of next Thursday’s season opener.

And rival club Melbourne has moved its training away from its facilities at AAMI Park – where a spectator attended a Super Rugby game last Saturday and later tested positive to coronavirus.

Cricket Australia (CA) said it was consulting with an infectious disease specialist, in addition to taking advice from health authorities.

Australia host New Zealand in a limited overs fixture in Sydney on Friday with CA saying there were no plans to ban spectators, but future overseas tours are in jeopardy.

“We know the destinations that our teams are travelling to in the next six months and will continue to monitor the situation in the regions they are scheduled to visit,” CA said in a statement. 

A fan who attended the women’s Twenty20 World Cup final at the MCG last Sunday is among those to have tested positive to coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Australian women’s soccer player Caitlin Foord will be forced into a 14-day quarantine period when she returns to her English club Arsenal this week.

Foord featured in Australia’s successful Olympic Games qualification in Vietnam but her Matildas teammates Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Hayley Raso (Everton) and Chloe Logarzo (Bristol City) haven’t yet been told if they’ll also be quarantined on return to England.

The Matildas’ scheduled friendlies against the USA and Canada next month are also in jeopardy.

Australia’s women’s tennis Fed Cup tie in Hungary next month has already been postponed.