(Reuters) - Belarusian champions Dynamo Brest confirmed on Monday that several players are under quarantine after testing positive for the novel coronavirus but urged local media not to mislead the public about the number of infections.
Belarusian media reported in the last few days that more than 10 Dynamo players have been isolated due to COVID-19 cases but the club had repeatedly declined to comment.
“Yes, some in the team contracted the disease,” the club, who won their maiden Belarusian title last year, said in a statement on Monday. “But they are definitely not 15 people as the media reported.
“Several players are quarantined. As for those with confirmed coronavirus — their condition is stable and satisfactory.”
On Sunday, Ukraine striker Artem Milevskiy, who has 50 caps, said on Instagram he had begun a mandatory 14 days of isolation.
Dynamo, however, did not disclose the names of infected players.
The club, based in Brest on the border with Poland, pointed fingers at local media.
“We also urge the media not to mislead the public,” Dynamo said. “In this difficult time, the team needs support and understanding.”
Belarus was the only country in Europe playing soccer amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, making it an unlikely draw for fans overseas where matches have been cancelled.
As of Monday, there were nearly 64,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Belarus, with more than 420 deaths.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has been publicly sceptical about the need for strong action to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
He has called fears over the virus a “psychosis” and variously suggested drinking vodka, visiting saunas or playing ice hockey to beat the disease.
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ken Ferris