ESSENDON has received welcome news on the eve of its clash with Carlton, with James Stewart the only Bomber to be deemed a 'close contact' of Conor McKenna by the Department of Health and Human Services.
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The DHHS later announced that anyone recognised as a 'close contact' of McKenna's would have to quarantine for 14 days, but investigations completed on Tuesday have confirmed that only one other player will be made to isolate for the next fortnight.
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It means that Essendon will be without both McKenna and Stewart for Saturday night's clash with Carlton, with every other player and staff member, aside from the Irishman, returning negative test results for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning.
McKenna returned an irregular result last Saturday morning before testing positive for the virus later in the day. He subsequently became the first AFL player to test positive for COVID-19.
Essendon's clash with Melbourne, scheduled for last Sunday at the MCG, was postponed as a result of McKenna's positive COVID-19 test and will be played later in the year. Despite speculation, the AFL is adamant it will not be played this week.
Essendon will subsequently return to training on Wednesday morning, having been told to isolate over the weekend.
"This has clearly been a sensitive and delicate matter and, as a club, the health and wellbeing of our players and staff, particularly Conor and James, has been our number one priority throughout this period," Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell said.
"The public nature of our industry has made this task even more difficult but we are now pleased to have reached an outcome with the DHHS.
"On behalf of the club, I also wish to thank the Department of Health and Human Services for their significant work in recent days and for providing this information in a timely and professional manner."