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Fernando Gaviria positive again for COVID-19 as two more leave Giro d'Italia

UAE Team Emirates’ Fernando Gaviria on stage 2 of the 2020 UAE Tour
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Fernando Gaviria has caught COVID-19 for a second time, testing positive in the latest round of Giro d'Italia testing after spending nearly a month in hospital with the virus back in March. 

The Colombian was one of two positive cases to emerge from the second round of rest-day testing at the Giro d'Italia, along with an unnamed AG2R La Mondiale staff member. Both have left the race and been isolated by their teams. 

"Gaviria was immediately isolated following the test result and is feeling well and is completely asymptomatic," read a statement from UAE Team Emirates.

"All other riders and staff returned a negative test, and will undergo further testing today. The teams medical staff are monitoring the situation closely and doing all they can to ensure the we can proceed safely."

While the whole Jumbo-Visma squad left the race after Steven Kruijswijk tested positive on the previous rest day, UAE Team Emirates are set to start Tuesday's stage 16 and continue in the Giro. The same goes for AG2R La Mondiale, who have not yet made an announcement on the matter, but whose bus was present at the stage's start town of Udine. 

A total of 492 people were tested on Monday’s rest day and the results will come as a relief to the race organisers. After eight positives were found last Monday, it was feared many more could emerge this time, with EF Pro Cycling suggesting the race bubble had been ‘compromised’ and calling for the final week to be scrapped.

However, the 2020 edition of the Giro now looks set to go all the way to Milan on Sunday, with a winner crowned after a full complement of 21 stages.

Gaviria’s re-infection, meanwhile, is likely to be of major interest to doctors not just involved in cycling but in the research into the coronavirus, with the understanding of the immune response key to the search for a vaccine. There has been evidence to suggest it can be caught again, although instances so far have been rare.

Gaviria spent almost a month in hospital in Abu Dhabi in March after contracting COVID-19 during the UAE Tour, when it was not yet classed as a global pandemic. However, he was only said to have suffered mild symptoms, and was only discharged once he produced three negative tests.

“The fever went after two days and after that I didn't feel anything in particular: no coughing fits, no sore lungs, nothing. I had to wait a very long while to get a negative result to appear on the tests, but with hindsight the important thing was I felt normal during that process.”

Gaviria returned home to Colombia in late before returning to racing when the season resumed at the Vuelta a Burgos in late August. He has since racked up 39 race days, winning a stage of the Tour du Limousin and the Giro della Toscana. At the Giro d’Italia, he has been some way short of his best, his best placing being seventh on stage 11.