Six members of the Pakistan contingent that have travelled to New Zealand have tested positive for the COVID-19, confirmed the New Zealand Cricket Board on Thursday.
“NZC was made aware today that six members of the Pakistan touring squad, currently in managed isolation in Christchurch, have tested positive for COVID-19,” said the board in a statement.
The board said that two out of the six were cases of reinfection, while the other four were marked as “new”. It added that following the test results the six individuals will be moved to the “quarantine arm of the managed isolation facility”.
“The Pakistan team’s exemption to train while in managed isolation has been put on hold until investigations have been completed,” said the board following the test results.
Some squad members violated isolation SOPs:
The members of Pakistan squad, currently in New Zealand for upcoming T20I and Test series, were caught on camera while violating the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
According to sources, certain members of Pakistan squad, which is currently quarantined in Christchurch, were seen receiving food from hotel staff without wearing a mask while some interacted with other members of the squad — which was contrary to the SOPs in place due to the pandemic.
CCTV footage confirmed the aforementioned transgressions and consequently a warning letter was issued by the New Zealand Health Department to reiterate the country’s strict Covid-19 protocols.
The New Zealand Cricket Board also said that some members of the team had “contravened protocols on the first day of managed isolation”.
“We will be having discussions with the tourists to assist them in understanding the requirements,” said the board.
One more breach and we will send you home – NZ Government
The New Zealand Cricket has said that the entire Pakistan squad will be sent back home if there are any other violations.
Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Wasim Khan was told by the New Zealand government that one more breach of New Zealand’s Covid-19 protocols by the Pakistan squad would result in the entire travelling party being deported.
In a WhatsApp voice message to the travelling players which ESPNcricinfo has obtained, the PCB CEO addressed his players candidly, telling them being sent back home would be “hugely embarrassing”.
“Boys, I spoke to the New Zealand government and they told us there were three or four breaches of protocols,” Wasim Khan said in the voice note.
“They have a zero-tolerance policy and they’ve given us a final warning. We understand that this is a difficult time for you, and you went through similar conditions in England. It’s not easy. But this is a matter of the nation’s respect and credibility. Observe these 14 days and then you’ll have the freedom to go to restaurants and roam about freely. They have told me in clear terms that if we commit one more breach, they’ll send us home.”
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the rule-breaking was being taken very seriously.
“It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep Covid-19 out of our communities and keep our staff safe,” said Bloomfield.