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NZC warns Pak squad after six players test positive


November 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: All the members of Pakistan contingent in New Zealand will undergo Covid-19 test again on Friday (today) after six members of the squad tested positive with two of them having previous history of the disease.

Pakistan were issued a “final warning” by the New Zealand government after breaching the Covid-19 rules. The NZ Ministry of Health in a statement said that the contingent as a whole has been issued a final warning. It said the team would be sent back to the country if caught violating the safety protocols against coronavirus again.

After this, PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan had a detailed conversation with the team management and asked for details of the players who committed violations. He warned that if any individual was found involved in any irresponsible activity, he would be called back to Pakistan.

Moreover, Wasim issued a video message for the players to not only take care of their own health, but to also protect the national pride, telling them being sent back home would be “hugely embarrassing. I spoke to the New Zealand government and they told us there were three or four breaches of protocols.

“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.

“This is a matter of national pride. It would be very embarrassing if they end up sending the team back. I know it’s very tough and difficult, but stay disciplined and follow the protocols they have set. We have no margin for error with the New Zealand government. This is a final warning. They will not compromise on health and safety. Do what’s right for your country.”

The Medical Officer at Canterbury District Health Board has sent a letter to the team’s management reinforcing that all the members are required to stay in their rooms until advised otherwise.

A team official from Christchurch told ‘The News’ that the hosts’ board has decided to conduct fresh tests of the contingent’s members after separating them from six affected players.

“Since the affected players were lodged in the same hotel along with rest of the players so fresh tests will be conducted on Friday to ascertain whether any other member has any type of symptoms in them.”

When asked about the breaches made by the cricketers, forcing the NZ government to issue final warning, the official said that two rules were breached by the Pakistan squad members.

“CCTV cameras caught some of the players talking to each other while standing at the doorsteps of their respective rooms without wearing facemasks. Secondly, a few players were found dragging their luggage upon their arrival without wearing a mask. Wearing facemask is a must here as even a small breach results in warning or fine so all the players have been asked to remain cautious in this regard. However, the other day these players were allowed to use open space for walking and jogging,” he said

In a statement, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) confirmed the players had tested positive while in managed isolation in Christchurch and will be moved into the quarantine arm of the facility in line with the government’s protocol.

“Two of the six results have been deemed ‘historical’; four have been confirmed as new. As a consequence, the Pakistan team’s exemption to train while in managed isolation has been put on hold until investigations are completed,” NZC statement said.

Separately, NZC said that some members of the Pakistan 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,” the statement said.

Shahid Aslam has not joined the contingent yet following the revelation that he was having a sore throat upon his arrival, however, his Covid-19 test turned negative.

Meanwhile, the PCB tasked head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and manager Mansoor Rana to keep players under surveillance.

“This means that, in line with the protocols governing the squad’s entry into New Zealand, the six members of the squad will be moved to the quarantine arm of the managed isolation facility.

Prior to leaving Lahore, all members of the Pakistan touring squad returned negative results on the four occasions they were tested.

Ashley Bloomfield, director-general of New Zealand health, said in a statement, “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.”

The West Indies cricket team were also reprimanded by New Zealand health authorities for similar breaches earlier this month when they were in managed isolation.

Tests were conducted on the Pakistan touring contingent as they arrived in New Zealand on November 24.