The Premier League has returned its highest number of positive coronavirus tests of the season, with 18 new cases.
Between December 21 and 27, 1,479 players and club staff were tested and those 18 individuals who have the virus will now self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
A number of those cases are at Manchester City after an outbreak there saw their game with Everton called off at four hours’ notice on Monday.
The previous highest number of cases this season was 16, during the week of November 9 to 15.
A Premier League statement read: “The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 21 December and Sunday 27 December, 1,479 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, there were 18 new positive tests.
“Players or club staff who have tested positive will self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the league and results will be made public after each round of testing.”
City’s trip to Goodison Park was the second Premier League game of the season to be called off due to COVID-19 after Newcastle’s game with Aston Villa was also wiped out last month.
City will begin retesting their squad on Tuesday in the hope they have acted quickly enough to prevent a widespread outbreak of the disease.
They closed their training complex on Monday after reporting “a number of positive cases”, three days after Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus tested positive and were forced to isolate.
The spike in cases, an increase of 11 from the previous week’s testing, will cause concern about the prospect of more disruption across English football.
Eight games across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two on Tuesday have been wiped out because of the virus, while Rotherham boss Paul Warne said his side are only playing their match with Barnsley to avoid a possible points deduction by the EFL.
Rochdale are one of the clubs in League One whose next two games have been postponed and their club doctor Wes Tensel suggests it is time for the Football League to be suspended.
He told BBC 5 Live: “The spread and the numbers are rising and we have Tier 4 places where people cannot travel but we have players coming in and taking things back to their family, it is probably not the wisest thing at the moment.
“As well as a team doctor I am a GP so I am seeing both sides, so it seems there is a bigger picture going on.
“Why should football go on when other industries can’t and the disease is spreading?”