The National Basketball Association (NBA) has made its COVID-19 protocols stricter after a number of players tested positive for the virus for a second time.
New COVID-19 rules were agreed between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, with masks now being mandatory at all times on team benches, guests being banned from hotel rooms and players and staff no longer able to leave hotels for non-team activities.
According to ESPN, several players tested positive again for the virus, which has already led to the postponement of five games so far this season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American federal agency for national public health, states that cases of reinfection of COVID-19 have been reported, but are rare.
Tracking data through Second Spectrum found players on average spent less than six minutes a game within six feet of another player, less than the 15-minute threshold that the CDC considers close contact for exposure to a person with COVID-19.
However, a disease specialist has challenged that guidance, considering the intensity of the sport.
"That [CDC] guidance is probably not applicable in those situations," infectious disease physician Amesh Adalja told The Athletic.
"We know that when people are engaged in athletic activity they're often breathing faster.
"[It's] more likely for more viral droplets to emanate during high intensity exercise."
The 2020-2021 NBA campaign started on December 22 2020 and the regular season is scheduled to conclude on May 16.
The NBA Playoffs are then set to run from May 22 to July 6, while the NBA Finals are slated for July 8 to 22.
Should the finals go the distance, they will finish a day before the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are due to open.