The English Premier League confirmed on Tuesday that 18 players and staff have tested positive for coronavirus, the highest number since weekly testing began, the Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
Manchester City’s clash at Everton was postponed on Monday after an outbreak of multiple positive cases at City.
“The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 21 December and Sunday 27 December, 1,479 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19,” the league said in a statement.
“Of these, there were 18 new positive tests. Players or club staff who have tested positive will self-isolate for a period of 10 days.”
That figure surpassed the previous highest figure recorded of 16 for November 9-15.
All remaining seven Premier League games on Tuesday and Wednesday are still set to go ahead.
City had already announced on Christmas Day there had been four positive tests at the club for players Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus and two staff members prior to the latest positive cases on Monday.
The club’s training ground has been closed for an “indeterminate period” with further testing on players and staff to take place before it can reopen.
City are due to face Chelsea away in the Premier League on Sunday and Manchester United in the League Cup semi-finals on January 6.
Southampton revealed that manager Ralph Hassenhuttl will not be in attendance for his side’s match against West Ham on Tuesday as a member of his household has tested positive.
The Everton-City postponement was just the second time that a Premier League game has been called off due to Covid-19 since the 2019/20 season resumed in June.
Aston Villa’s clash with Newcastle earlier this month was postponed due to an outbreak at Newcastle’s training ground.
However, the Premier League insisted the protocols put in place are still stringent enough to prevent another shutdown like the three-month stoppage between March and June earlier this year.
“The Premier League continues to have full confidence in its protocols and rules, and the way in which all clubs are implementing them,” the league said in a statement on Monday.
Further down the English football pyramid, postponements are mounting with seven of the 12 games scheduled for Tuesday in League One called off due to Covid-19 infections.
The number of positive tests recorded over a 24-hour period in England and Wales hit new high of 41,385 Monday, according to UK government figures.
“I think we all sensed this next period might be a tough one with what’s been happening pre-Christmas with Covid in general,” said Chelsea manager Frank Lampard with Sunday’s clash with City now in doubt.
“I think the Premier League and clubs have done a great job to keep football going in difficult circumstances, so let’s hope we can keep it going.”