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Pakistan Players Could Be Sent Home Before Start of New Zealand Tour for Breach in COVID-19 Protocols, Entire Team Given ‘Final Warning’ After Flouting Quarantine Rules

Pakistan cricket team are currently in New Zealand for a bilateral series starting December 18. But the team face the danger of being forced to leave New Zealand even before the start of their tour if they breach New Zealand’s COVID-19 protocols once more. Players from the Pakistan cricket team have reportedly already breached the COVID-19 quarantine protocols several times since reaching Christchurch on November 24 and the team have been given one final warning with the New Zealand government telling PCB CEO Wasim Khan the entire team could be deported if there was one more breach. Pakistan Cricket Team’s Six Members Including Two Reinfected Players Test Positive for COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Pakistan are due to play three T20Is and two Test matches in New Zealand. The team landed in Auckland in a special chartered flight two days ago. They were then taken to Christchurch where the team is set to undergo 14-day strict isolation. But their time in Christchurch got off to a bad start when six players tested positive. Two of those positive cases were declared “historic” cases although the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had claimed there was no positive cases among the players travelling to New Zealand for the series. All six players have been since moved into a separate isolation facility. Pakistan Ready to Host Top Cricketing Nations Like South Africa, New Zealand, England and West Indies in 2021.

The players were initially set to be tested three times during the quarantine period. But post the positive cases, New Zealand health ministry has ordered that cricketers “ be tested a minimum of four times while in managed isolation” while they have also been asked to stay confined to their rooms.

But what the players would be more concerned about would be New Zealand cricket’s statement where they mentioned several cricketers breached quarantine regulations and the entire 54-member team, including 34 players and support staff, have been issued a “final warning”. New Zealand’s director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also lashed out at the visiting side for flouting isolation protocols.

“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 Ashley Bloomfield.

According to a report from ESPNcricinfo, the same has been conveyed to PCB CEO Wasim Khan, who through a WhatsApp voice message informed the team they could be sent home before the start of the series if protocols are not followed to the T. “Boys, 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,” he was quoted as saying by espncricinfo. “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.”

“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,” he added. “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.”

New Zealand are one of the few countries to have largely eradicated the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. But that involves strict movement, quarantine measures, lockdown and rapid testing in large numbers. The country have only registered 1684 cases since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. But the strict protocols also means Pakistan cricket team would not be required to be under a bio-bubble since there is no community transmission of the virus in the country.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Nov 26, 2020 10:28 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).

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