Crew, Players Norway Chess Being Tested For COVID-19

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Crew, players, and other attendees of the Norway Chess tournament are taking tests for the coronavirus. Norwegian medical authorities advised them to do so because they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Norway Chess tournament was the first over-the-board chess event with the world’s best players since the start of the pandemic. Despite the strict health and safety measures that were taken, the tournament is now linked to the coronavirus after all.

Arbiters, players, and other attendees received a text message on Monday evening from the Norwegian tournament doctor in which they are asked to get tested as soon as possible. Also, they are told they need to stay in quarantine until the test result is known.

GM Fabiano Caruana confirmed to Chess.com that he got the message and will do the test on Tuesday. A player who already did his test was tournament winner GM Magnus Carlsen. He shared a photo on Twitter:

The tournament took place on October 5-16, 2020, in Stavanger in the west of Norway. At the moment it is unclear at which event people got exposed to the person with COVID-19. The organizers were not available to comment.

During the tournament, strict anti-corona measures were taken and crew and players needed to quarantine 10 days in advance in the hotel where the tournament took place. However, at some of the side events, it was more difficult to keep the 1.5-meter distance at all times.

An example is the closing ceremony held on Saturday evening, October 17. About 100 guests in total attended, among them locals as well as guests from the capital Oslo, about 500km east of Stavanger. Current governmental measures against the virus allow up to 200 people at indoor events for Stavanger.

Norway Chess 2020 closing ceremony
As this photo obtained by Chess.com shows, social distancing was not always strictly upheld at the closing ceremony.

Another situation where the 1.5-meter rule was, at times, hard to follow was the cake decoration event during the first rest day on October 9. Sponsored by kitchen producer HTH, this event had the chess players involved in a contest for decorating chocolate cakes. While their workspaces made it easy for them to keep distance, crew and media were struggling to do the same.

Norway Chess Cake Decoration
The cake decoration contest on October 9. Image: Norway Chess Live Broadcast.

With a population of 5.3 million, Norway hasn’t been hit as hard as other European countries with regards to the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s count of total positive cases is currently at 16,603 with 278 people having died of COVID-19. Between October 13 and 19, there was an average of 109 new cases per day.

The people who attended the tournament and received the text message are likely going to have a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which specifically detects the presence of the new coronavirus. In this test, a smear is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab and the sample is then sent to a laboratory. Results take about 24-48 hours.

The recommendation to the guests and players to be tested as soon as possible—even without having symptoms—might not follow the procedure in their home countries. In some countries, a test is only recommended when someone develops symptoms.





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