The Springboks confirmed on Sunday that three unnamed players had returned positive results following PCR testing carried out upon their arrival to the team’s training base in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The whole South Africa squad is now self-isolating as a precaution, with training on Sunday cancelled and specialist medical advice sought.
A further announcement on team activities is expected in due course, with South Africa scheduled to play against Georgia on Friday evening.
South Africa’s official statement concluded: “SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus emphasised that the team had followed all the necessary precautions since the start of the three-week conditioning camp hosted in Bloemfontein, which included mandatory COVID-19 testing three times a week, and that they would be led by specialist advice before any action is taken.”
The Lions are due to fly to South Africa later on Sunday evening after beating Japan 28-10 in a rare home warm-up match at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday afternoon, with captain Alun Wyn Jones and flanker Justin Tipuric both suffering tour-ending shoulder injuries in the first half.
Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray has since been chosen as the new tour captain, with Adam Beard and Josh Navidi called up to replace their Wales counterparts in Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad.
The Covid situation in South Africa has already seen the Lions tour reduced down to eight matches, with one Test against the reigning world champion Springboks planned for Cape Town (July 24) and two scheduled for Johannesburg (July 31 and August 7).
Gatland’s side are due to open the trunctated tour with matches against the Emirates Lions next Saturday (July 3) and Sharks (July 7) at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
They are then scheduled to play the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on July 10, with final warm-up matches against the Stormers (July 14) and a South Africa ‘A’ team (July 17) to come at Cape Town Stadium ahead of the Test opener.