7 more Pakistan cricketers test positive for coronavirus, PCB says England tour 'on track'

Published June 23, 2020
The players and a masseur who tested positive have been instructed to observe strict quarantine at their homes. — ICC Twitter/File
The players and a masseur who tested positive have been instructed to observe strict quarantine at their homes. — ICC Twitter/File

Seven more Pakistan players due to tour England in August have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Tuesday, taking the total to 10 since the first results were announced this week.

Despite the new infections, the PCB said the England tour is "on track" and the team will depart for the series as per schedule.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain and Kashif Bhatti were all diagnosed with the virus.

It comes after three teammates — Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf and Haider Ali — tested positive on Monday. A player support personnel, masseur Malang Ali, was also confirmed to have the virus.

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals against England starting in August.

The PCB had conducted the 35 tests in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar on Monday.

The players who tested negative are: Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, and Yasir Shah.

Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, batting coach Younis Khan, spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, fielding coach Abdul Majeed and other staff members also tested negative. Shoaib Malik, Cliffe Deacon and Waqar Younis have not been tested to date, the PCB statement said.

On Monday, Imad Wasim and Usman Shinwari had tested negative in Rawalpindi.

Like Haider, Haris and Shadab, none of the seven players and masseur who tested positive had reported any symptoms of Covid-19 until they underwent the first round of testing on Monday ahead of the side’s departure for Manchester, according to the PCB.

"The PCB medical panel is already in contact with these players and the masseur, who have been instructed to observe strict quarantine at their homes for their and their families’ wellbeing," the press release said.

Commenting on the development, PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “The recent positive tests of some of the fittest athletes, who had not shown any symptoms, clearly reflect the danger this virus possesses."

He urged the public to strictly adhere to the safety precautions advised by the government to control the spread of the virus.

“As regards the players who have tested positive, we will continue to monitor and support them, including conducting antibody tests, and as soon as they test negative, they will be flown to join the squad in England. At the moment, they have been advised to go into self-isolation so that they not only recover quickly but also prevent their other family members from being infected," he said.

Khan said the England tour is "very much on track" and the team will depart as per schedule on June 28. "Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practising immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England," he added.

“In the meantime, Misbah-ul-Haq is reviewing the training schedule in England and is firming up plans for reserve players to be tested as a backup.”

Next steps 

According to the PCB, the following procedure will be followed in the coming days:

  • The players and support staff who have tested negative will assemble in a "bio-secure environment" in Lahore on June 24 and will undergo a second round of testing a day later.

  • The squad members who test negative on June 25 will depart for Manchester on a chartered flight. They will be tested by the ECB medical panel within 24 hours of their arrival in the UK.

  • The players who test negative after arriving in the UK will observe a quarantine period as per the UK government’s regulations, but will be allowed to train and practice in a bio-secure facility.

  • The players and support personnel who have tested positive in pre-departure testing will observe self-isolation in their homes and remain under strict monitoring of the PCB medical panel.

  • After completing their minimum quarantine period, they will undergo further testing and after testing negative twice, they will be flown to England on a commercial airline.

  • Upon arrival in the UK, these players will be tested again by the ECB medical panel and will be allowed to integrate with the Pakistan men’s national squad after testing negative.

  • According to series standard operating procedures, the Pakistan team will undergo at least five tests in the lead-up to the first Test.

What is a 'bio-secure environment'?

At the bio-secure environment, which will be put in place by the ECB medical panel for the Pakistan squad during the tour, monitoring of temperature and symptoms of all team members will be done on a daily basis.

Regular Covid-19 testing will be conducted for everyone within the bio-secure environment and every seven days on average, according to the PCB.

Only essential staff including hotel personnel will be present at the facility and the bio-secure environment will be ‘zoned’ so team members "will only operate within a restricted area essential to their duties".

Players and staff members will be required to wear face masks or coverings, observe social distancing and ensure regular hand hygiene.

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