Christchurch: Pakistan cricket squad’s six members, currently on a tour to New Zealand, tested positive for the Covid-19, according to New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed on Thursday.
The team has also collected ‘final warning’ for breaking quarantine rules while New Zealand health authorities have cancelled the players’ ability to train while in isolation at their Christchurch hotel. The authorities said that the risky behaviour of the squad in a country which almost defeated Covid-19 spread would not be tolerated.
NZC posted a statement on its website stating therein that six members of the Pakistani squad, who are in managed isolation in Christchurch, have tested positive. The statement, however, did not reveal the name the affected players.
The statement further said that the two of the members were ‘historical cases’ while the other four contracted the virus recently, adding that the infected players would be moved into the managed isolation facility where they were staying.
An emergency investigation has been started and until its completion, the team would not be able to train, the statement said.
New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement that it was a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport but in return, teams must strictly follow the rules, designed to avoid Covid-19. Bloomfield further added that the CCTV showed members of the Pakistani squad were breaching social distancing protocols, adding that the team as a whole had been issued with a final warning. He further maintained that there was no risk to general public of New Zealand since the incident of breaches took place within the facility.
According to the ESPNcricinfo, Chief Executive of Pakistan Cricket Board Wasim Khan has also been told by New Zealand authorities that one more breach of the Covid-19 protocols will lead to the deportation of the entire squad.
ESPNcricinfo also obtained a WhatsApp voice message sent by Wasim Khan to the players in which he warned that he spoke to the New Zealand government and the authorities responded that there were more than three breaches of protocols.
Wasim Khan told the squad members that the hosting country had a zero-tolerance policy and they had given a final warning.
Wasim Khan in his voice message also told the squad that it was a matter of the nation’s respect and credibility. He asked the squad to observe the 14 days quarantine and then the team would have the freedom to roam about freely. “They have told me in clear terms that if we commit one more breach, they’ll send us home,” Wasim Khan told the squad.
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Pakistani squad left for New Zealand tour on November 23 to play three-match Twenty20 Series and test matches. The players were also scheduled to complete their mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Series will start on December 18 and end on December 22. The team will play first test match from December 26-30 in Mount Maunganui and second test match from January 3-7 in Christchurch.
Earlier on Friday before leaving, Pakistan’s cricket team captain Babar Azam said that the team was prepared for its upcoming tour to play against New Zealand. He said that the team could challenge the Kiwis. Azam expressed confidence in the team during a press conference on his visit to Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.