Ball kids at centre of drastic tennis ban around coronavirus

Players will be banned from handing their towels to ball-kids at next week's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, organisers said on Friday.

The exchange of sweaty towels between players and ball-kids between points has long been a source of contention in the sport due to hygiene reasons.

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Tournament officials said players will have to place and fetch towels themselves - a chair will be placed at the back of the court for their use.

Ball-kids will also wear gloves.

Nick Kyrgios reacts during his Men's Singles match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on day eight of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Player and fan interaction will also be limited and all common areas at the facility in the Southern California desert will be cleaned daily with an antiviral application, the tournament said.

Restaurant and food supply workers will wear gloves, N95 masks will be available if needed for first aid and health personnel.

The tournament is coordinating with local hospitals and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to approve testing for individuals with symptoms.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency following the death of an elderly person - the first fatality in the region from the virus.

The virus has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide, killed more than 3,400 people and spread across more than 90 nations.