No AFL contingency yet as coronavirus fears grow
The AFL is yet to make a contingency for its China game, amid concerns coronavirus containment and any possible vaccines or treatments are still "months" away.
Chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed yesterday the May 31 Shanghai fixture was under "weekly" review, largely dependent on advice from the Australian government and World Health Organisation.
But the AFL has not set in place an alternative venue.
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There has been more than 24,000 confirmed cases of the deadly flu-like virus, including 490 deaths, in mainland China alone.
Australia joined several other countries last week, putting out warnings and restrictions on travel to and from China.
A 14-day offshore quarantine period has also been implemented for anyone travelling to Australian from mainland China on or after February 1.
Based on the current trends, Dr Katherine Gibney, epidemiologist and infectious diseases physician at Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Austin Hospital, said the "epidemic" would continue to spread through mainland China.
"It looks like it's going to continue in China for months, it's not going to be over in the short term," Gibney told the Herald Sun.
"What happens here is a bit more uncertain, I think, how long we can keep it at bay is a bit more uncertain."
The travel warnings and restrictions to and from mainland would only be reversed if the virus "burnt out in China" or, alternatively, spread across Australia.
"I think it would be a while before we're thinking (lifting of travel restrictions) in those terms," Gibney said.
Gibney could not comment specifically on the AFL match in Shanghai, other than to repeat existing Australian government and WHO travel advice.
St Kilda would also not be drawn on the issue yesterday, electing to defer to the AFL.
McLachlan indicated on Melbourne radio yesterday there would be a "workaround", if required.
St Kilda and Port Adelaide both have a bye in Round 12 - the week after the scheduled China game.
The match could not be played at the MCG or Marvel Stadium in Round 11 because of venue availability and St Kilda not willing to lose a home game by playing at the vacant Adelaide Oval.
"The AFL's number one priority is the health and safety of all our people," a spokesman said.
"We will continue to take advice from the Australian government and World Health Organisation regarding any health and safety precautions related to travel to China.
"Our planning for the Shanghai match on May 31 continues, with the situation being closely monitored."
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