RONNIE O’SULLIVAN says snooker’s first failed coronavirus tests last week have left him “paranoid”.
Two players tested positive for Covid-19 at the European Masters, and three others that had come into contact with them were also sent home.
Several high-profile players including Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham reckon events at Milton Keynes have been a real jolt and a wake-up call for the Tour.
And as a result of rising infections and recorded cases the Government has moved to reimpose restrictions — including delaying the return of spectators.
Six-time and reigning world champion O’Sullivan, 44, is famously one of the most health-conscious players on the circuit.
The world No 2, who saw his scheduled first-round opponent Daniel Wells test positive, stopped shaking hands with opponents last year — long before the pandemic.
And after a shock exit to Irish teenage tour rookie Aaron Hill at the Marshall Arena, O’Sullivan revealed his virus fears.
O’Sullivan, who has been telling other players to “stay away”, said: “To be honest it just made me feel even more vulnerable than I already did at the venue.
“You know the guys that either failed or came into contact with them have also come into contact with other people.
"So there is an extra thought of ‘keep your distance, here’ because for all you know one day there could be 50 per cent of people that have got it.
“You really have got to do the tests, stay away, wear your mask and keep sanitising your hands.
“I am very paranoid about it — I have had people that have died around me and seen healthy people get really ill.
“And no one really knows the long-term effects of it either.
“So I don’t want to take any chances and take it very seriously.
“I don’t live with the other players, so I don’t know how they behave, or what they do away from the venues.
“But for me it’s very much, ‘keep your distance at all times until we know it’s safe to do otherwise’.
"I don’t want to take any risks. Last week at Milton Keynes I was telling people to stay away from me, keep away — I don’t want anyone near me.
“I don’t know if they had come into contact with the other guys that failed the test, you can’t watch everyone all the time. Why take the risk?
“I am surprised that there weren’t any positive tests before last week.
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“I was starting to wonder if they were actually doing them!
“Around the world and in every other sport there had been some positive results, so in a strange way for me it was reassuring that the process has done its job.
“At least you know that measure is working.”