COVID-19 TESTING FOR OFFICIALS

 

Basketball England are aware of the increased COVID transmission rates and the increasing ‘R’ value. As an indoor sport which inherently carries additional virus transmission risks, we are taking further actions to reduce risk by working with NBL, WNBL, BBL and WBBL clubs to undertake Lateral Flow Testing for all players, officials and associated support staff.

This enhancement to our protocols has been set out in response to NBL and WNBL clubs reporting that they would feel more comfortable playing, and officials reporting that they would feel more comfortable officiating, with an additional safeguard in place.

The introduction of testing aims to:

  • Increase confidence in officiating basketball in the NBL, WNBL, BBL and WBBL
  • Identify asymptomatic COVID cases before they are able to spread the virus within the game
  • Allow for officials to meet from different parts of the country with reduced risk of COVID transmission

We strongly advise that if you as an individual do not feel the measures are adequate for the safety of you and your family, you should not partake in the sport. No one should place pressure on individuals to attend basketball fixtures if they feel it is not safe to do so.

These protocols are outlined as extension measures to the current Basketball England Return to Play Guidance which can be found here, and the BBL/WBBL Secure Play document. All relevant protocols should be followed at all times for the relevant competition.

 

Webinar

We hosted a webinar on Wednesday 3 February to explain this testing and to give a demonstration. Please use the below buttons to access the recording of the session (passcode: c7@hsGw5)​ and to view the presentation.

Please note that the webinar was recorded prior to the implementation of testing in the BBL/WBBL.

     

Testing

We have provided NBL and WNBL clubs with Lateral Flow tests (LFT). LFT’s identify specific antigens to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) that will be present if the individual has COVID-19. BBL and WBBL clubs also have LFT's provided to them.

LFT’s allow quick turnaround results for positive tests. They are known to have an accuracy of 67-75% if completed twice a week with trained staff. However, the ‘Gold Standard’ testing is a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which is conducted by the NHS Test and Trace system. In this instance, Basketball England are using LFT’s to identify asymptomatic individuals before they are able to spread the COVID-19 virus amongst other participants in the game.

Please note:

If an individual is presenting with symptoms prior to the LFT then they should not have the test but they should self-isolate and contact the NHS COVID testing website to get a PCR test.

Who conducts the tests?

We are asking officials to conduct the LFT themselves. For an official’s first game following the publication of this protocol (2 February), the official will be required to test themselves at the venue of their game for NBL and WNBL games. For BBL and WBBL games, there is no requirement to test at your first game.

At the same game, the official should collect two additional LFTs. One of these tests is to be kept as a spare.

When should I take my LFT?

You should take a LFT as close to 6pm the night before a game you are scheduled to officiate. This test will cover you for 72 hours following taking the LFT. For example, if you have a game on a Friday and Sunday, taking a test on Thursday at 6pm, will cover you for any games up until Sunday evening.

Should the LFT return a positive result, the official should isolate immediately for 10 days and inform:

  • Shaun Williams for NBL and WNBL games. 
  • Martin Ford if you are a referee or table official for BBL and WBBL games.

If you are assigned the game by a local officiating coordinator then please contact them directly.

How to conduct the tests

The tests that will be used are the nasopharyngeal swab tests.

An invalid test should be repeated.

Storage and Disposal

You must store any tests you keep at home in a separate bag and not dispose of the bag for at least three weeks.

Positive Results

If there is a positive result with the LFT the individual is required to self-isolate immediately (along with members of the same household) for 10 days. We advise that the individual takes a PCR test. If the PCR test returns a negative result, then isolation is no longer required.

If the LFT is taken at the venue (first game from the publication of this protocol), and a positive result is returned, any officials that have travelled in the same vehicle as the individual with the positive result will also have to isolate for 10 days as they are deemed a ‘COVID contact’, unless the PCR test of the person who tested positive using LFT returns a negative result.

If a referee receives a positive result with the LFT then the following protocol is triggered:

  1. The referee immediately calls BE* to inform of the positive test.
  2. Basketball England attempt to source a replacement referee. Basketball England to inform officials and the club of the outcome.
  3. If a replacement cannot be sourced, then the game can go ahead with 2 referees. B. this step can only apply to NBL1 where 3 referees are originally assigned.
  4. If a replacement cannot be sourced, and this leaves the game with less than 2 referees, then the game must be postponed. This decision will be taken by Basketball England.

*The official should try to contact Shaun Williams (07739319674) in the first instance, followed by Simon Unsworth (07904029110), and finally Charlie Ford (07890174054).

If a table official receives a positive result with the LFT then the following protocol is triggered:

  1. The club should try to source a replacement.
    • In the first instance the replacement should be qualified to the required level and be licenced for the current season.
    • Should such person not be available, then the club should try to cover the position with someone already present at the venue who is comfortable to perform the position.
  2. If a replacement cannot be sourced, then the game can go ahead with 2 table officials. The role of the shot clock operator shall not be fulfilled, with the referees managing this rule.
  3. If a replacement cannot be sourced, and this leaves the game with less than 2 table officials, then the game must be postponed.

If a statistician receives a positive result with the LFT then the following protocol is triggered:

  1. The club should try to source a replacement.
    • In the first instance the replacement should be qualified to the required level.
    • Should such person not be available, then the club should try to cover the position with someone already present at the venue who is comfortable to perform the position.
  2. If a replacement cannot be sourced, then the game should go ahead with 1 statistician. The sole statistician should focus primarily on the accuracy of the score, and ensuring the scores are attributed to the correct players. The game will then be completed from video in the following week.
  3. If a replacement cannot be sourced, and this leaves no statisticians able to complete the game, then the game will be completed from video in the following week.

Officials who have already had COVID-19

It is common for antigen tests to remain positive for some time after initial COVID-19 infection, which is representative of viral shedding and not necessarily infectivity. Advice from Public Health England is not to repeat antigen testing (LFT or PCR) for 90 days unless new development of symptoms.

If symptoms consistent with COVID-19 develop, repeat antigen testing is indicated by using a PCR test, therefore, all persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 (through either routine or following display of symptoms) and have completed their required isolation period, should not undergo repeat antigen testing for 90 days - unless new development of symptoms occurs.

I have tested positive for Covid-19 and have completed my self-isolation. Do I need to take a LFT? +

NHS guidance suggests that an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19 should not take a further antigen test until 90 days unless new symptoms develop. If this applies to you, please ensure you inform us by emailing infrastructure@basketballengland.co.uk.

I have one game on Saturday, and another game on Sunday. Do I need to take two tests? +

No. You only need to take a test the night before your first game which would cover you for 72 hours.

Should I expect to be tested for games in the BBL and WBBL. +

Yes, this webpage covers officials registered to Basketball England operating in NBL, WNBL, BBL & WBBL.

Through my work, or other means I have regular access to PCR testing or LFT. Do I still need to take a LFT? +

Should you have received a negative PCR test within 72 hours of a game you are scheduled to officiate, you are not required to take a LFT.

Similarly if you have taken a LFT within 72 hours of a game you are scheduled to officiate and have tested negative, you are not required to take a LFT from the club.

If you are already taking two LFTs a week, you are not required to take an additional LFT for BE.

Please inform us by emailing infrastructure@basketballengland.co.uk if this is the case.

I do not wish to be tested. What should I do? +

We have made the decision to introduce this extra safeguard to protect those in our sport. Regrettably should an official not wish to be tested, then they would be unable to attend games.

When should the LFT be completed at the venue? (first game following the introduction of this protocol only) +

The test should take place at least one hour before the scheduled tip-off time. We are asking officials to arrive at least one hour fifteen in advance when a LFT is to be taken.

Please note you are only tested at the venue for your first NBL or WNBL game. This is not valid for BBL and WBBL games.

I have travelled to my game on public transport and have tested positive when taking a LFT at the venue. How should I travel home? +

We advise that if possible, a member of your household picks you up from the venue and takes you home. If this is not possible, we advise that you take a taxi home adhering to social distancing and hygiene protocols at all times.

I have travelled to my game and either myself or someone in the car has tested positive. Can I claim travel expenses? +

Yes. Please email infrastructure@basketballengland.co.uk should you need to claim travel expenses for a game you have travelled to but have been unable to officiate.

This is valid only for NBL and WNBL games. It is not valid for BBL and WBBL games.