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All Croatian first division footballers test negative for Covid-19 ahead of season resumption 

ZAGREB, 20 May 2020 – All 350 players and members of the professional staff of Croatian first division football clubs have tested negative for Covid-19 ahead of the resumption of the season next weekend, the Croatian Football Federation said.  

The second phase of testing continues this week, which includes serological tests in addition to RT-qPCR molecular tests to determine the presence of specific IgA and IgG antibodies. The presence of igG antibodies is important because it confirms that the person has overcome the disease.

In its efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the president of the Medical Commission of the Croatian Football Federation, Ph.D. Dragan Primorac and co-workers developed a comprehensive model that includes, among other things, the application of specific tests to determine the existence of genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 virus, using molecular tests RT-qPCR. Specifically, this analysis proves the presence of viral (N, E, RdRP) genes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Determining the presence of viral genetic material is done from a sample of nasopharyngeal swabs (part of the pharynx behind the nasal cavity), since the nasopharynx is one of the places of concentration of the virus after entering the human body. In this model, genetic testing is done at intervals of five days, in order to avoid obtaining false-negative results. Namely, the so-called latency period (the period from contact with the virus to the production of new virus particles) lasts approximately five days.

The project, which is already known in the world today as the “Croatian model”, and which was published in the prestigious Journal of Global Health, was strongly supported by FIFA and UEFA.

The Teaching Institute for Public Health “dr. Andrija Štampar ”, Special Hospital Sv. Katarina, International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS), and Genos Laboratory took part in the project. Logistical support for the project is also provided by the “HNS Commission for the Covid-19 Pandemic”, which includes members of the HNS Health Commission and scientists from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases “Dr. Fran Mihaljević ”, The Teaching Institute for Public Health“ dr. Andrija Štampar ”and the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

The Croatian Football Association emphasizes the great cooperation with clubs, players and members of the professional staff who acted extremely responsibly during the implementation of this project. Also, the Croatian Football Association continues to implement all measures prescribed by the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.

The football season resumes in Croatia on 30 May with Croatian Cup matches. The first division will resume on 6 June.  

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