New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have reportedly warned Pakistan they will be sent home if they breach the COVID-19 protocols one more time. This comes after six members of the touring Pakistan team tested positive for the dreaded virus.
Pakistan’s preparations for the upcoming T20 and Test series against the Bkack Caps have been thrown into chaos. The six team members have been moved into separate isolation facility after the positive test results while the team’s exemption to train while in isolation has been temporarily revoked.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health on Thursday said all 53 members of the travelling party, including players and staff, were tested on arrival on 24 November and the positive results are from those tests. NZC said in a statement all players in the squad had tested negative four times before leaving Lahore.
Two of the six results were “historical” infections while four were new. NZC said it had been made aware members of the squad may have breached strict biosecurity protocols on the first day of their 14-day mandatory isolation. As part of measures to prevent COVID-19 being brought into the country, Pakistan were not allowed to socialise, eat or train together outside their small bubbles while in isolation.
NZC fires warning at Pakistan:
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, 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.
Wasim Khan has already conveyed the message to the squad. In a WhatsApp voice message to the players, the PCB CEO addressed his players candidly, telling them being sent back home would be “hugely embarrassing”, according to the news outlet.
“Boys, I spoke to the New Zealand government and they told us there were three or four breaches of protocols,” Wasim Khan said.
“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,” he added.
Speaking further, Wasim said: “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.”
There has been no community transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand for the past two weeks. At one point, the nation went over 100 days without an officially recorded positive Covid-19 case. There was a second wave with a few hundred cases but it was swiftly brought under control.
Pakistan are due to play New Zealand in a three-match T20 series and two Tests in December and January. The first T20 is scheduled for 18 December.