'Don't really know': AFL star opens up on 'scary' virus change

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Conor McKenna, pictured here in action for Essendon against North Melbourne in the AFL.
Conor McKenna in action for Essendon against North Melbourne. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Conor McKenna has opened up about his coronavirus scare, saying he still has no clarity around why he tested positive two days before testing negative.

On Saturday night the Bombers AFL star played his first game since testing positive to coronavirus last month - a scare that forced the postponement of Essendon's round three clash with Melbourne.

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In a bizarre twist to the saga that had threatened to derail the AFL season, the Essendon backman tested negative to COVID-19 just two days after testing positive, baffling officials.

“On the Friday it’s called a false positive … so I had to get retested on the Saturday and that came up positive,” McKenna told the Teamtalkmag Tyrone Facebook page on Tuesday.

“And then I got retested on the Tuesday and I got negative.

“So to be honest I still don’t really know what happened, and then I tested negative probably three times in a row in that week and got bloods done.

Health officials, pictured here cleaning Essendon headquarters and testing players and staff.
Health officials had to clean the Essendon headquarters and test players and staff. Images: AAP

“That showed that maybe I had it six weeks ago maybe when I was in Ireland after a flight, so there’s really still no clarity.

“They’re not sure if I had it 10 weeks ago after a flight or if I had it three weeks ago. I still really don’t know where it stands, to be honest. It was another 10 days stuck in a room by myself.”

McKenna and teammate James Stewart were forced to go into quarantine despite the conflicting results, with the Irishman only making his return last weekend.

But in a cruel twist McKenna is set for another frustrating stint on the sidelines after scans reportedly confirmed he broke a finger during his AFL comeback.

McKenna suffered the injury during Saturday night's 14-point win over North Melbourne - a game in which he was sledged over his recent COVID-19 scare.

According to the AFL website, the 23-year-old might need surgery to fix the fracture.

Confusion over Conor McKenna ‘medical miracle’

McKenna’s case left the AFL world baffled, with some saying it could be a test for the rest of the country.

As ABC sportscaster Corbin Middlemas pointed out: “Scariest thing about Covid-19 is how little we know about it.”

“McKenna case a prime example. So many possibilities as to what could’ve happened that testing can’t identify.

“Were tests a false positive, did testing detect a dead virus, etc.”

Stewart’s manager was also left dumbfounded.

“I’m finding it difficult to accept that somehow Conor McKenna has been able to recover from coronavirus within 48 hours,” Peter Jess told the Herald Sun.

“This is something that has not been documented anywhere throughout the world.

“It must be a medical miracle.”

Herald Sun journo Mark Robinson said McKenna’s case could serve as a key test for the rest of the world.

“We’ve got to wait for the Department of Health to try explain that, because I think the people need and want to know,” Robinson said on AFL 360.

“What if the next test comes back positive? That’s bigger than football.”

Health authorities conducted further tests on all of McKenna’s samples, however nothing concrete has emerged.

“We have seen examples of false positives, and we have seen other examples of further testing has garnered greater information and insight or not a virus may be,” Bombers CEO Xavier Campbell told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.

“Yes he’s been to Ireland but he did come back through quarantine, he was tested twice as per protocol, he’s been tested five times since then so there’s an enormous amount of data.”

with AAP