Puerto Rican health authorities have confirmed 17 people involved with the ongoing Miss World 2021 pageant have tested positive for Covid-19. While it wasn't immediately clear how many of the participants were among those infected, the Miss World Organisation said there were about seven "isolated" candidates with possible coronavirus infections, according to Puerto Rican daily Primera Hora.
The finals for the global beauty contest are to be held on Thursday at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, where reigning Miss World Toni-Ann Singh from Jamaica is scheduled to crown her successor. The annual competition, which is hosting its 70th event this year, was cancelled in 2020 owing to the coronavirus pandemic, making Singh the longest-reigning Miss World in history.
"In the case of Miss World, there are 17 positives ... yesterday there was talk of seven, but that number went up," Puerto Rico's health department spokesperson Lisdian Acevedo told Primera Hora. Acevedo said the number of cases includes candidates as well as technical personnel and that all those infected were vaccinated.
While none of those who tested positive required hospitalisation, they have to follow a mandatory 10-day isolation period, Acevedo said.
Miss World chairwoman Julia Morley told Primera Hora that candidates who tested positive will not be allowed on stage at the finals "if they don't produce a negative molecular PCR test". However, they will still be in the running for the crown.
“Knowing the seriousness of this global situation that we all face, we took steps to capture the unique talent of each contestant so that, in case they couldn't join us, they could still win the crown as Miss World 2021. The panel of judges will review your pre-recorded video content to make their final decision,” Morley said.
“The Miss World Organisation is following national guidelines. We are an experienced and responsible global organisation that is very excited to celebrate our 70th anniversary in Puerto Rico and we remain dedicated to the health and safety of our participants and the people of Puerto Rico."
Last month at the Miss Universe pageant, Miss France Clemence Botino was forced to quarantine for 10 days after she tested positive upon her arrival in Israel. Botino, who made it to the finals in Eilat on December 12, addressed the issue on stage.
“We are living [through] an international crisis. We have to handle it, now the situation made me stronger,” she told the audience.
Contestants from 98 countries are participating in the Miss World contest this year, including Khadija Omar, Somalia's first hijabi candidate. Representatives from Iraq, Tunisia and Turkey are also in the race.
Miss World, which began as a bikini contest, has drastically changed its format over the years. In 2014, it famously did away with the controversial swimsuit round.
Scroll through the gallery for pictures from the Miss World 2019 pageant: