Max Richeze has announced he has been released from a hospital in the UAE after testing negative for the coronavirus Covid-19.
Teammate Fernando Gaviria also confirmed he was positive for the virus in mid-March but has yet to confirm if he has been released, while the status of two staff members who were reported the first to have tested positive for the coronavirus is also unknown. Other riders and staff, who were never diagnosed with coronavirus, were allowed to travel home ten days ago after a period of voluntary quarantine in the UAE.
"Finally, after 18 days in hospital, my last two Covid-19 tests were negative and I was discharged," Richeze wrote in English and Spanish in a message posted on Instagram on Wednesday morning, with the UAE Team Emirates also confirming the news.
"I want to thank the doctors and nurses of the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for having cured me and my teammates for the support. A special thanks to all the people for their messages and affection!!"
Richeze is Gaviria's trusted lead-out man and the two raced together at the UAE Tour until the race was stopped on February 27.
The UAE Tour was cancelled with two stages remaining due to suspected cases of Covid-19 on the race, and all riders, support staff, race organisation and media were placed in isolation in their Abu Dhabi hotels pending testing.
Two days later, 18 of the 22 competing teams were permitted to leave the United Arab Emirates, but Gazprom-Rusvelo, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ remained in lockdown after staying on the same hotel floor, while UAE Team Emirates announced that it was remaining in voluntary quarantine in the country. Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ were given the green light to leave on March 8.
Since then the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the globe, with a growing number of countries in lockdown to try to limit the spread of the virus and limit its impact on the worst victims who need intensive treatment.
Richeze is from Argentina but is based in northern Italy during the racing season. He pleaded with people in Argentina and South America to stay at home.
"Unfortunately the virus pandemic is reaching my beloved country and all South America, so I ask you to please respect the prevention measures dictated by the government and the Ministry of Health," he wrote.
"We need everyone's solidarity to be able to fight the virus. #stayathome."