A Greek tennis player who tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling from Melbourne to South Africa putting Australian Open officials on high alert has revealed how he believes he became infected with the virus.
Michail Pervolarakis confirmed his positive test result on Saturday night in a series of social media posts uploaded from his tiny quarantine room, where he hit out at not having a TV and air-conditioning.
‘Just to clarify few things… got tested negative in Melbourne before leaving and the nurse said that I most likely got it on the plane or on my stop in Doha,’ he said.
The 24-year-old, ranked 463 in the world, did not participate in the Australian Open but he did play two ATP Cup matches for Team Greece alongside world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas at Melbourne Park this month.
Tsitsipas is still competing in the Australian Open, where he is through to the fourth round sparking fears he and other players Pervolarakis came into contact with during his time in Melbourne could potentially be forced into isolation.
But tennis officials remain confident the Australian Open is still coronavirus-free and at this stage the tournament will proceed as planned, with crowds banned from attending during Victoria’s hard lockdown period.
Michail Pervolarakis (pictured left) revealed he had tested positive to Covid-19 on his Instagram page after travelling from Australia to South Africa where he had been competing in the ATP cup
Pervolarakis said: ‘Just to clarify few things… got tested negative in Melbourne before leaving and the nurse said that I most likely got it on the plane or on my stop in Doha’
Pervolarakis said he was completely asymptomatic and told how he had a ‘tiny room’ with no TV or air-conditioning
The Victorian health department had issued an alert for the Brunetti cafe at Terminal 4 in Melbourne airport for the same day Pervolarakis flew out of Melbourne, after a staff member who later tested positive for Covid worked a busy shift at the cafe.
State health officials said customers and staff at Terminal 4’s Brunetti cafe may have been at risk at any time between 4.45am and 1.15pm on February 9.
But Tennis Australia said Pervolarakis had not flown out of Melbourne via Terminal 4.
A Tennis Australia spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia: ‘The player returned a negative test before flying out of Melbourne on February 9.
‘He did not fly out of terminal 4 and was not at Melbourne Airport during the exposure time.
‘His own medical advice is that it was likely he contracted the virus in Doha or on the plane.’
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley told Channel 9 on Sunday morning all indications pointed towards the tournament continuing on as normal.
‘We will continue on normal, anyone on site that has any symptoms related to COVID is required to immediately isolate and test. We haven’t had any of that. We will go through the normal procedures and take the advice from Health,’ he said.
Michalis Pervolarakis played for Greece in the ATP Cup just one week ago in Melbourne
One of Pervolarakis’s (right) teammates in the ATP Cup was world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas (left) – who is now into the round of 16 at the Grand Slam.
‘If they want us to have more people tested, we will do that. At this point, there’s been no indication about (that).’
Tiley said a week ago they had everyone tested again and they all retruned negative test results.
‘They’d come out of being tested for 15 straight days and we are in an environment where, particularly since the lockdown, our athletes in this environment are travelling straight from here to their place of residence and like everyone else, are in the lockdown,’ he said.
‘When the athletes leave, they also get tested. So they also have to show a negative test before they can go.’
Tiley said they were working closely with Victorian health authorities, who they had provided information to.
‘The good news is that he tested negative and then left before he tested positive. There was a fair bit of travel time and he was travelling to two of the hotspots in the world and the chance to become infected is fairly high in those places,’ he said.
‘We will leave all the information for the authorities and then continue until we get any advice from them, if any at all.’
Victoria’s Chief Health officer Professor Brett Sutton said the result could be a false positive.
‘We’ve had the circumstances before where we’ve had notification through the national focal point, again under the international health regulations, that means that countries identify other countries where they think that the virus might have originated. They’ve all been found to be not real results,’ Professor Sutton said.
‘We will go through the normal processes through the national incident room and go through all of the information that South Africa can provide and we’ll tie off those ends. But I don’t think it’s a real result.’
Pervolarakis posted a video to Instagram showing his quarantine room after arriving in South Africa following his trip from Melbourne via Doha
Pervolarakis also took on Australia’s John Millman and Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the round robin ATP tournament at Melbourne Park on Friday, February 5. Millman is still competing in the Australian Open.
In Instagram posts announcing his positive Covid-19 test, Pervolarakis said he was completely asymptomatic and expressed his disappointment with his quarantine conditions.
‘After a 24-plus hour travel day from Australia to South Africa I’ve been diagnosed positive to COVID-19,’ Pervolarakis posted.
‘I am completely asymptomatic at the moment and will have to quarantine in an isolation facility in Potchefstroom.
‘I am not a person that complains, but I feel that I need to express my disappointment with the conditions we are in.’
He posted a video of a tiny room with no TV or air conditioning and a small mattress.
The Australian Open (pictured) has been given the greenlight to continue under Melbourne’s Stage Four lockdown, however, crowds are barred from the event
The entire state of Victoria was plunged into a snap five day lockdown from 11.59pm on Friday in response to an outbreak at Melbourne Airport’s Holiday Inn.
The rules are largely in line with Stage Four restrictions imposed last year when Melburnians suffered through one of the world’s toughest lockdowns for a total of 111 consecutive days between July and November.
Premier Daniel Andrews has permitted the Australian Open to go ahead as scheduled but with out spectators.
‘(The Australian Open) will function essentially as a workplace. They will not function as an entertainment event, because there will be no crowds,’ he told reporters on Friday.
‘And the workforce will be the minimum that is needed in order for that to be COVID-safe and safe in lots of other contexts.’
When asked about the decision to allow the tournament to continue while five millions of Victorian are suffering under lockdown he said people will ‘make their own judgements and have their own views’.
‘I don’t have advice to cancel the event on the basis that it’s unsafe. You have to do what the advice tell us us to do,’ Mr Andrews said.
NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR VICTORIA FROM 11.59PM ON FRIDAY FEB 12
From Friday February 12 at 11.59pm, new rules apply to Victoria for five days until 11.59pm on Wednesday February 17 due to a worrying new outbreak of the UK mutant strain of Covid-19.
- Stage Four lockdown for the entire state
- Only four essential reasons to leave the house – essential shopping, essential work/education, care-giving or two hours of exercise per day
- All residents must stay within 5km of their home other than essential work or shopper
- Outdoor exercise must be with your household, intimate partner or one other person not from your household
- Mandatory masks everywhere except your home
- No visitors to anyone’s home
- All non-essential shops will be closed
- Public gatherings banned
- Work from home
- Schools closed except for vulnerable children
- Places of worship closed
- Weddings banned
- Funerals capped at 10 people
- Community spaces including swimming pools and libraries closed