Juventus star striker Cristiano Ronaldo has poured scorn on the positive coronavirus test that sidelined him from the eagerly-awaited duel with Barcelona's Lionel Messi in the Champions League.
Ronaldo did not take part in the Champions League game on Wednesday, more than two weeks after the 35-year-old superstar initially tested positive for COVID-19.
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The quarantined Portuguese striker, who reportedly has no symptoms, posted a dismissive message both on Twitter and Instagram, where he added a comment about the swab test that confirmed he still carries the virus.
"PCR is bullshit," he wrote in reference to the polymerase chain reaction test widely used to detect positive coronavirus cases.
His post, which he later deleted, was criticised, among others, by Paolo Ascierto, a doctor at a Naples hospital who has often intervened on issues relating to Sars-CoV-2.
"He was wrong in using those words," Ascierto was quoted as saying in Italian media.
"The swab test is the only way, as of today, to tell if an individual is positive. It is something serious, not a joke."
Ronaldo's absence means the latest eagerly-awaited showdown between him and Lionel Messi, the pair who have dominated the individual accolades for the world's best player over the past decade, is off.
The Portuguese last met Messi in the elite event in the 2010-11 semi-final, when Ronaldo was at Real Madrid. Messi dominated and his team went on to lift the trophy.
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The football superstar tested positive for COVID-19 while in camp with the Portugal squad on Tuesday, missing his side’s clash with Sweden as a result.
However Ronaldo then flew back to Italy to continue his quarantine at home in Turin, travelling on an ambulance jet.
But according to the country’s sports minister, that was a breach of protocol.
Vincenzo Spadafora was asked during a radio interview if Ronaldo might have broken health rules, replying: “Yes, I think so, if there hadn’t been any specific authorisation from the health authority, he violated protocol.”
However Juventus president Andrea Agnelli insisted no rules had been broken, saying Ronaldo had been granted permission to fly home.
“You must call the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior and have them explain what has been violated,” Agnelli said during a news conference.
Juventus said on Wednesday that Ronaldo had returned on a medical flight “authorised by the competent health authorities”.
Portugal’s Director General of Health said Ronaldo was treated like everyone else with COVID-19, adding that he had to sign a form promising to self-isolate before being allowed out of the country.
“Their transport in conditions of security is entirely the responsibility of patients who have been diagnosed with coronavirus and want to return to the country they officially reside in,” said Graca Freitas.
“Once they’ve arranged that transport they’re submitted to an evaluation by health authorities and they are asked to sign a declaration in which they assume responsibility regarding the period of self-isolation they have to abide by.”
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