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Spanish league keeps plan to resume despite 5 positive tests

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish league is not changing its plan to resume competing after five players from clubs in the first and second divisions tested positive for COVID-19. The league confirmed the positive tests on Sunday but said it was not going to alter the practice protocol that got underway last week. Players from most clubs began individual training sessions on Friday after nearly two months of confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league said it will “continue to apply the back-to-training protocol” that was approved by government authorities to “guarantee the maximum safety of all players, coaches and club employees.” It said it has “warned” everyone to keep following health safety measures suggested by authorities so the numbers of infected players "remain very low.”

The five players who tested positive for COVID-19 will remain sidelined until they fully recover. They are all without symptoms and recovering from the disease, according to the league. They will be allowed to resume practicing after testing negative in two consecutive tests.

All other players tested negative, the league said. Players, coaches and club employees involved in the training sessions are being tested daily. The league did not name the players who tested positive. It also didn't disclose their clubs. Spanish media said three players were from first-division clubs, including Atlético Madrid defender Renan Lodi.

Atlético on Saturday posted a message on an official club social media channel with a picture of the Brazilian and the message: “Renan Lodi says hello from his home. We will see you very soon on the field, Renan!”

He did not practice as the rest of Atlético players resumed their activities on Saturday. None of the players who tested positive reportedly play for Barcelona or Real Madrid. Barcelona was among the first teams to resume practicing on Friday. Real Madrid is expected to be back in action on Monday.

Spain this week started loosening some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March because of the pandemic, allowing soccer players to resume training individually at the teams' base camps.

The league said the players who tested positive must remain in quarantine and continue to train individually at home. The league said it will offer to test the players’ relatives as well. The league sent clubs a detailed four-stage protocol for the return to practice. The individual training will be followed by smaller group sessions and then full squad sessions.

The league wants a total training period of about a month before it can restart. It recently said it hoped to resume sometime in June with games without fans.

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