Two weeks in the past, all 54 members – gamers and assist employees – of the Pakistan squad examined destructive for Covid-19 and had been cleared to fly out to New Zealand. There have been purported to be 55 travellers, however Fakhar Zaman had signs just like Covid-19, and was thus left behind; he would return a destructive check the next day. The remainder of the squad departed, apparently, with no instances of Covid-19 amongst them.
Nevertheless, after testing upon arrival the next day, the New Zealand well being ministry discovered half-a-dozen players had examined optimistic, and 4 gamers who had what was referred to as historic infections. With this most of the journey contingent discovered to be carrying Covid-19 sooner or later since arriving in New Zealand, questions come up about whether or not the PCB’s procedures and processes earlier than the squad departed had been rigorous sufficient.
The identical processes weren’t in place, earlier than the New Zealand tour, as there had been earlier than the England tour earlier within the yr. Forward of that tour, the PCB carried out two assessments, together with an antibody check. To adjust to their acknowledged coverage for the England tour, gamers needed to check destructive twice earlier than being cleared for journey. They had been collectively in a lodge for seven days. For the New Zealand tour, the PCB carried out only one check, conserving gamers within the lodge pre-departure for under two days.
Your complete squad of 35 gamers and 20 teaching employees and officers assembled in a Lahore lodge on the afternoon of November 20. They had been examined for Covid-19 the subsequent day and all returned destructive assessments. The workforce then departed for Dubai on a connecting flight to Auckland by way of Kuala Lumpur. A chartered airplane then took the squad to Christchurch to start what ought to have been a 14-day quarantine interval.
Earlier than flying out, the gamers had been a part of a busy dwelling season during which a lot of them would have performed within the Nationwide T20 Cup, the Quaid-e-Azam trophy in Karachi (first and second XI), the white-ball sequence towards Zimbabwe in Rawalpindi and 4 PSL matches in Karachi. Although the PCB had created bio-secure bubbles for gamers throughout these matches, there have been breaches, leading to a PCB reprimand for sure gamers in the course of the Nationwide T20 Cup.
Earlier this week, left-arm spinner Raza Hasan was sent home from the Quaid-e-Azam trophy and banned for the remainder of the season for a severe Covid-19 breach, which concerned him leaving the bio-secure premises with out prior clearance.
This has coincided with a time when Covid-19 has seen an alarming spike in Pakistan over the previous two months. After a primary peak died down in July, bringing official instances all the way down to as little as below 500 a day in August, instances and deaths from the virus started to creep up once more in October. Pakistan averages over 3,000 instances a day over the previous fortnight, with the state acknowledging additional precautions wanted to be taken. Notably, nonetheless, a second lockdown has not been imposed, and whereas regional lockdowns are formally in place, enforcement stays feeble.
Between the second and third spherical of video games within the QeA Trophy, 9 Sindh gamers, together with captain Sarfraz Ahmed, skilled flu-like signs. However as a result of their outcomes got here again destructive, all of them remained within the bubble and solely quick bowler Mir Hamza returned dwelling after being declared unwell. Balochistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman Bismillah Khan had examined optimistic for Covid-19 in the course of the second spherical match towards Southern Punjab within the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, however hadn’t been examined till the fourth day, after which he was substituted on the sphere by Adnan Akmal – who himself would check optimistic a spherical later and is presently in quarantine in Lahore.
5 members of the Multan Sultans squad have both examined optimistic submit the PSL, or are at the moment the a part of the Pakistan squad who’re being investigated for a historic Covid-19 an infection, which means an an infection that’s not contagious. Sohail Tanvir, a part of the franchise, performed the PSL, however then tested positive on arrival in Sri Lanka for the Lanka Premier League.
Zaman, who was pulled out a day earlier than the departure for New Zealand, examined destructive however his Lahore Qalandars team-mate Dilbar Hussain examined optimistic after touchdown in Australia to play within the BBL. Hussain had examined destructive earlier than leaving Pakistan, and is now in quarantine in Perth. And earlier than enjoying the PSL, Shaheen Afridi underwent varied assessments which threw up what are believed to be inconclusive outcomes. He was finally cleared to play after two destructive assessments, however it’s understood he is without doubt one of the 4 gamers in New Zealand who’re being investigated for historic an infection.
The historic an infection instances, specifically, throw up questions on testing in Pakistan. The 4 gamers repeatedly returned destructive outcomes in the course of the many assessments performed over the course of the home season. All 4 had been additionally a part of the squad to England which implies that they’re now throwing up historic indicators of an an infection, regardless of having examined destructive repeatedly since June.
The PCB is assured they did what was required of them earlier than the departure for New Zealand. It’s value noting the PCB don’t perform the testing themselves, however outsource it to licensed laboratories. And it isn’t as if the PCB has not examined sufficient: throughout the home season up to now, they’ve performed almost 3000 assessments.
“During the nine tournaments/series to date, as many as 2,830 Covid-19 tests have been conducted on players, players support personnel and match officials as the PCB has strictly followed and implemented its strict protocols, which were designed in-house, and have been put together for the health and safety of all participants,” the board stated in an announcement.