Three cricketers and four staff members of the England cricket team have tested positive for the coronavirus just two days ahead of their first One-Day International (ODI) match against Pakistan, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Tuesday.
Following PCR tests carried out on Monday in Bristol, three players and four management team members of the men's ODI party tested positive, the ECB said.
"In collaboration with Public Health England, Public Health Wales and Bristol Local Health Authority, those impacted will now observe a period of self-isolation from July 4 following the UK government's protocol on quarantine," the statement said.
The remaining members of the party have been deemed close contacts and will also isolate, the ECB statement said.
The Pakistan squad, meanwhile, is already in England since June 27. They are scheduled to play three ODIs and as many T20 Internationals.
The first ODI will be played in Cardiff on July 8 (Thursday). The remaining ODIs will be played at Lord’s on July 10 and Edgbaston on July 13. The T20Is will take place on July 16 in Nottingham, July 18 in Leeds and July 20 in Manchester.
"The ECB have confirmed the Royal London ODIs and the Vitality IT20s against Pakistan will go ahead. Ben Stokes will return to England duties and captain the squad," the statement said.
In a statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it has been in close contact with the ECB regarding concerns about the health and safety of its players since the news of Covid-19 outbreak in the England camp was shared with it late on Monday evening.
"The PCB is satisfied by the assurances and guarantees provided by the ECB on behalf of its medical panel, and feels comfortable with the existing protocols that have been put in place to ensure all the Pakistan players and player support staff remain safe and secure throughout the duration of the series.
"The PCB has also been in touch with its team management and has advised them to exercise extra caution while in the hotel or at the match venue," it said.
Commenting on the development, ECB chief Tom Harrison said that board was aware that the emergence of the Delta variant, along with the move away from the stringent enforcement of bio secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak.
"We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall well-being of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions," he said.
"Overnight we have worked swiftly to identify a new squad, and we are grateful to Ben Stokes who will return to England duties to captain.
"We also recognise the impact this news will have on our First Class Counties and their men’s playing squads and thank them, along with our partners Sky and Royal London, for their ongoing support in dealing with this pandemic," he said.
England announces new squad
Hours after breaking news of the virus outbreak within its camp, the ECB announced a new squad for the three ODIs against Pakistan.
"Ben Stokes will return to the squad to captain the side and Chris Silverwood, who had been due to take some time away during the white-ball series, is back as head coach," the cricket board said, adding that there were nine uncapped players in the squad.
"It's a great opportunity to play on the biggest stage, and for most of the players selected it's not necessarily something they would have been expecting 24 hours ago," said ECB Managing Director Ashley Giles.
"It's an exciting group of players, with some young talent and some players who have impressed at domestic level over a long period of time," he said.
Giles said that the cricket board was in "unprecedented territory" in terms of replacing an entire squad and management team. "I'd like to also put on record the thanks of the ECB to the Pakistan Cricket Board for their support and understanding during this time," Giles said.
England's ODI squad: Ben Stokes (captain), Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Lewis Gregory, Tom Helm, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, David Payne, Phil Salt, John Simpson, James Vince.