Six members of the Pakistani cricket squad have tested positive for the new coronavirus while in managed isolation in Christchurch, said New Zealand Cricket.
Pakistan’s cricket tour in New Zealand is in balance after six squad members tested positive for Covid-19 and the team received a “final warning” for violating quarantine rules.
New Zealand’s health authorities deprived Pakistani players of the ability to train while in isolation at their hotel in Christchurch, making clear they would not tolerate risky behavior in a country that has largely eradicated the virus.
“It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to exercise, but the team must stick to rules designed to keep Covid-19 away from our community,” said director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, in a statement. .
The health ministry said the 53-member Pakistani tour group, led by captain Babar Azam, tested negative before leaving Lahore and was wiped again after arriving for a period of managed isolation on the South Island on Tuesday.
Protocol ‘Breaking’ distance
Six tests came back positive and those affected were transferred to stricter quarantines, he said, with Cricket New Zealand adding that four were new and two were considered “historical”.
“While this is disappointing to the Pakistan squad, the results of testing and the actions taken show the government system is working,” NZC said.
Bloomfield said CCTV showed tour group members violating social distancing protocols.
“The team as a whole has been issued with a final warning,” he said.
“It is important to note that all incidents of breach occur within the facility and there is no risk to the public.”
The West Indies cricket team was also reprimanded by New Zealand’s health authorities for similar offenses earlier this month while they were in managed isolation.
New Zealand has largely eradicated community transmission of the coronavirus, which has recorded just 1,684 cases and 25 deaths out of a population of five million.
Aggressive testing, snap lockdowns, and effective contact tracing have meant household life has largely returned to normal, but border controls remain tight.
All arrivals overseas are subject to a two-week quarantine, although New Zealand Cricket is negotiating special rights to allow tourists to train together.
Health authorities said this had been lifted after several team members were seen on CCTV “violating managed isolation rules, despite clear, consistent and detailed communication about expected behavior”.
The tour is scheduled to kick off with the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Auckland on 18 December, followed by two Tests, but would be in danger of further breaches.
The NZC said it was in discussions with tourists to ensure they understood the quarantine requirements.
New Zealand’s military is helping manage virus accommodation at the border and air commodities Darryn Webb said there are strong procedures for dealing with a positive test.
“Our focus is on keeping the rest of our squad and staff safe,” he said.
“For that reason, all the rest of the team must remain in their room while the investigation continues.”
Even before Pakistan arrived in Kiwi land, the tour was beset by ill health, with Pakistani opener Fakhar Zaman sidelined at the 11th hour due to persistent fever.
The 30-year-old left-hander has tested negative along with the rest of the squad.
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