Hertha in 14-day self-solation as COVID-19 outbreak grows

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BERLIN — Another positive test result for COVID-19 has forced the entire Hertha Berlin team and coaching staff into self-isolation for two weeks, complicating the ambitious club’s bid to avoid Bundesliga relegation.

Hertha asked the German soccer league on Thursday to call off its upcoming Bundesliga games against Mainz on Saturday, Freiburg on Wednesday, and Schalke on April 24. It’s likely to lead to fixture chaos in the league with six rounds remaining to be completed by May 22.

Hertha said late Thursday that player Marvin Plattenhardt tested positive for the coronavirus, adding to earlier positive results for coach Pál Dárdai, assistant coach Admir Hamzagic and forward Dodi Lukebakio.

They were all isolating at home without any symptoms, Hertha said. Another assistant coach, Andreas Neuendorf, was also in isolation as a close contact.

The rest of the team and staff had been set to move into closed accommodation until April 28, living together and leaving the site only for training sessions and games, but the local health authority said Plattenhardt’s infection means stricter measures are necessary.

The self-isolation measures mean Hertha won’t be able to play any games until they are lifted.

Goalkeeper Rune Jarstein was the first at Hertha to test positive for the virus, announced by the club on April 5.

“We tightened the hygiene measures again during the last international break, and with it the hope that Rune Jarstein’s positive result would remain an isolated case. Unfortunately this has not been the case,” said Hertha’s sporting director Arne Friedrich, who had taken over coaching duties in Dárdai’s absence.

“Due to the cases that have occurred, we are now forced into a 14-day quarantine at home. From a health point of view, this is absolutely the right step. From a sporting point of view, it affects us, because we now have to fight to stay in the league with six Bundesliga games by the end of the season on May 22.”

Hertha is 15th in the 18-team league, just one place above the relegation playoff spot.

“During the quarantine at home, the team will keep fit with virtual training units under the guidance of the coaching team. We accept the situation despite the difficult circumstances and will do everything in our power for a successful season finale,” Friedrich said.

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The Associated Press