World-record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in self-quarantine at his home in Jamaica a week after celebrating his 34th birthday with a big, mask-free party.
Jamaica’s health ministry confirmed late on Monday that Bolt, who holds world records in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints, had tested positive after he posted a video on social media around midday saying he had been tested and was awaiting the results.
“Just to be safe, I quarantined myself and just taking it easy,” Bolt said in the message that he appeared to have taped himself while lying in bed. It was posted with the caption “Stay safe my ppl”.
The only sprinter to have won the 100-metre and 200-metre golds at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016), Bolt said he did not have any symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Bolt said he took the test on Saturday, the day after he celebrated his birthday at a bash where partygoers danced to the hit, Lockdown, by Jamaican reggae singer Koffee.
Stay Safe my ppl 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/ebwJFF5Ka9
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) August 24, 2020
“Best birthday ever,” Bolt, who retired from athletics in 2017, wrote on Instagram, posting a photo of himself holding his daughter, Olympia, who was born in May.
Fans wished Bolt a speedy recovery on social media – “drink up your ginger tea,” one wrote – although some accused him of carelessness.
Another social media user posted a video of Bolt’s birthday party, as he was surrounded by dozens of mask-free people dancing in an open field. The user wrote, “No social distance, NO masks!”
Among those who attended the party was Manchester City star and England national team football player, Raheem Sterling, who has been advised to self-isolate after his possible exposure.
Daily confirmed cases in Jamaica have surged to more than 60 per day across the past four days from less than 10 just a few weeks ago. Jamaica now has 1,612 confirmed cases, with 622 active cases and 16 deaths from coronavirus.
Officials put the increase in cases down to the reopening of international borders as well as celebrations during a long weekend in August marking Independence Day and Emancipation Day.
They also put the blame at the feet of people who refuse to wear masks and practise social distancing.
The rise has raised concerns about national elections that Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has called for September, six months ahead of schedule.
Holness on Sunday suspended all his campaigning activities, including motorcades, home visits and rallies, and asked other parties to do the same.
Authorities have also delayed the reopening of schools for one month and citizens are under a national curfew.