Forty positive coronavirus cases were discovered over two rounds of Premier League testing in late December and early January, it has been announced.

The latest figures, published by the league on Tuesday afternoon, show that of 1,311 players and club staff tested between 28 and 31 December, a total of 28 came back positive for Covid-19. All those who tested positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

In the next round of testing, 12 further positives were discovered after tests on 984 players and staff. The second round of testing featured a smaller group of players and staff than usual because it took place over a weekend, when some teams were involved in matches.

It is understood the bulk of the positives across both rounds of testing relate to the three postponed fixtures over the period involving Manchester City and Fulham. City’s match against Everton on 28 December was called off because of an outbreak at the Manchester club, while Fulham’s games against Tottenham and Burnley on 30 December and 3 Januaryrespectively have also had to be rescheduled.

“With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the league continues to have confidence in its Covid-19 protocols, fully backed by the Government, to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled,” a Premier League statement said.

The league is also understood to have held conversations with the culture secretary Oliver Dowden following the announcement of a new national lockdown. The government minister is thought to have given his backing for elite sport to continue.

In addition, there are ongoing discussions between the 20 top-flight clubs and the league about ways the protocols can be further tightened in communal areas, such as training grounds and pre-match accommodation.

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