Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has said he’s self-isolating in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and enthused others to do the same to avoid catching or spreading the respiratory illness.
La Liga and UEFA each announced their competitions would be suspended following the rise in COVID-19 cases across Europe.
Messi took to Instagram (h/t ESPN FC) and told people to avoid public spaces where the coronavirus has spread, hoping to “turn this situation around as soon as possible.”
Messi ended the post signing off with the hashtag “StayAtHome.”
Barcelona confirmed on Friday that all first-team activity at the Camp Nou was suspended “until further notice,” with players instead taking on personal training from their homes.
CNN reported 142,230 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of Saturday, which had resulted in 5,388 deaths.
Messi announced his intention to self-isolate on the two-year anniversary of a UEFA Champions League landmark:
Each of Europe’s major leagues has made the decision to suspend their activities at least temporarily, with Barcelona currently leading Real Madrid by two points at the top of La Liga.
Spain’s top flight is suspended until April 5, but there are doubts regarding Europe’s top divisions and whether the domestic seasons will be finished because of the delays caused by COVID-19.
Juventus defender Daniele Rugani was the first high-profile player to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, shortly before Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi each tested positive.
Hudson-Odoi posted a video soon after it emerged he had tested positive for COVD-19 and said he had recovered from the illness but was still isolating on medical advice:
In his last game before the ban, Messi scored a 1-0 decider from the penalty when Barcelona beat Real Sociedad on March 7 having gone winless against Real Madrid (2-0) and Napoli (1-1) in their two matches prior to that.
All teams in La Liga have 11 games left to play this season, with Barcelona out to win their third straight league crown for the first time since 2009-11.