4 Dec 2020

Pakistan cricket team denied exemption to train during managed isolation

4:21 pm on 4 December 2020

The Pakistan men's cricket team will not be allowed to leave their hotel to train until after they finish their time in managed isolation in Christchurch.

Chateau on the Park Hotel in Christchurch is one of the isolation facilities.

Chateau on the Park Hotel in Christchurch is one of the isolation facilities. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says he has ongoing concerns about the risk of cross infection within the squad and he has decided against granting an exemption.

There have been six acute cases of Covid 19 among the 53-strong squad, and another four historic cases have been identified during testing.

Dr Bloomfield said he appreciated the challenges this decision will have for the touring team, but public health considerations must come first.

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles said it's the right call to stop the team from training while they remain in isolation.

Dr Wiles said the more cases there are in a cluster, the greater the need is to limit transmission.

She said some of the team may have tested negative but may still be incubating the virus so it's wise to be extra cautious.

Six members of the Pakistan cricket team touring squad first tested positive for Covid-19 in managed isolation in Christchurch on 26 November.

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

The team's exemption to train was immediately put on hold.

It emerged at the same time that some members of the team had contravened protocols on the first day of managed isolation, New Zealand Cricket said.

Dr Bloomfield said at a media briefing last month that the CCTV footage showed the players had not been abiding by the rules that they signed up to.

"Rather than being in their own rooms which is the requirement for the first three days until that first test comes back, there was some mingling in the hallways, chatting, sharing food and not wearing masks which was obvious on the CCTV footage."

Dr Bloomfield said he did not know how many times this happened, but it only takes once for Covid to spread.

Since then the players have had to remain in their rooms, which was the requirement anyway since the training exemption would only have applied if health officials were happy after the day three testing, he said.

Pakistan were scheduled to have a four-day game starting on 10 December against New Zealand 'A' upon their release from isolation, but opted instead to play a series of intra-squad matches, New Zealand Cricket said yesterday.

The tourists are due to play three Twenty20 internationals and two tests from 18 December, while a Pakistan 'A' tour will also be held at the same time.

- RNZ / Reuters

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