McLaren Withdraws From Australian Grand Prix After Team Member Tests Positive For Coronavirus

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, of Spain, enters the pit as the team's crew members watch during the Formula One US Grand Prix auto race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

March 12 - The McLaren Racing team has withdrawn from this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix after a team member tested positive for coronavirus, the team said on Thursday.

The positive test at McLaren follows four crew members of fellow Formula One team Haas being quarantined due to the outbreak.

UPDATE:

Australian Grand Prix Cancelled Due To Coronavirus Concerns

“The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities,” McLaren said in a statement.

“The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employee who will now enter a period of quarantine. The team is cooperating with the relevant local authorities to assist their investigations and analysis.” 

Both Haas and McLaren are Britain-based teams.

Victoria-based general practitioner, Dr Vyom Sharma, said the racing team’s decision to withdraw from the event was commendable as the risk of community spread of the virus remains. 

“McLaren have done the right thing,” Dr Sharma told HuffPost Australia. 

The doctor at QV Clinic in Melbourne said he was also concerned about the Australian Grand Prix going ahead at all, as “we are risking the greatest public health disaster in Victoria’s history”.

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“We need to cancel the public attendance of the Grand Prix,” he added, suggesting Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews make a call to pull the plug on spectators attending. 

If that were the case, Australia’s Grand Prix would be following in the footsteps of the Bahrain Grand Prix. It will be held on March 22 and will have no spectators on site, a decision made by organisers in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled for April, has been postponed.

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Carlos Sainz of Spain and McLaren F1 poses for a photo in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 12, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Robert Cianflone via Getty Images)

Dr Sharma’s comments come after a series of medical and health experts expressed similar concerns about the racing event. 

“The risk is that there may be some community transmission happening in Melbourne and that appears to already be the case from what we can see,” Melbourne anaesthetist Pieter Peach told The Age.

“The probability is that some of those people will attend the event and shed the virus and pass it on. The ultimate risk is that what this will do is increase the number of people that are already presenting to our hospitals with severe respiratory infections.”

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP speaks to the media during a press conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 12, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo: Clive Mason via Getty Images)

Earlier on Thursday Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton said it was “shocking” that the Australian Grand Prix could go ahead amid the threat of the coronavirus and suggested organisers had put financial concerns ahead of people’s health.

Thousands of fans poured into Albert Park on Thursday as race-week kicked off with practice and qualifying for lower-profile motor sport circuits.

Reuters reporting by Rohith Nair.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.