Two foreign players test positive for coronavirus

PCB Media Director Sami ul Hasan Burni speaks to media. Photo: Geo News screengrab

KARACHI: Two foreign players part of the Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) 2021 bio-secure bubble have tested positive for the coronavirus, said the PCB on Tuesday.

This was revealed by the PCB’s Media Director Sami Burni during a news conference. Burni clarified that despite emergence of the new cases, the Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators clash will be played at 7pm today as per schedule.

He said that the board had conducted 244 PCR tests after Fawad tested positive for the virus, adding that out of these, three came back positive. “These include two foreign players and one member of the local support staff.”

Burni said that all three players had been isolated from the rest, adding that they were being quarantined at a different floor on the hotel. The PCB media director shared that Fawad Ahmed, who tested positive for the virus a day earlier, will undergo “a repeat test” today

He said that all other people who are in the bio-secure bubble will be retested for the virus on Thursday. “At the moment, more than 300 people are in the bubble,” he said. “These include players, officials, support staff, franchise owners and security officials,” he added, disclosing that rapid tests of the broadcast crew and the staff of the National Stadium had been conducted.

Burni said that the PCB will hold a virtual meeting at 3pm with franchise owners and management teams to take them into confidence, give them reassurances and remind them to ensure SOPs are not violated.

He said that the organising committee of the PSL has told all players to “exercise caution” at the moment. “We have not told players to go into quarantine or self-isolation,” he said.

Burni said that Fawad Ahmed and the three others who tested positive for the virus today will be quarantined for 10 days.

‘Life in a bubble is very difficult’

In response to a question, Burni said that it isn’t possible to ascertain where the breach in the bio-secure bubble occurred. “You know that life inside the bubble is quite difficult,” he said. “So is its management and as you said, it happens in sports events across the world be it the Formula 1 or the NFL,” he added.

The PCB official said that there is no way to ascertain the causes of the bubble getting breached, saying that it was the collective responsibility of everyone, most importantly of the PCB, to ensure that the prestige of the tournament is not affected in the least.

He said that the cricket board was taking every step to ensure compliance of coronavirus SOPs. “You know that when the ball is thrown into the stands and the fans grab it, the umpire wipes the germs from it [before handing it back to the players],” he said. “They have wipes and everything.

He reiterated that these challenges were being faced by different sports organisers across the globe.

In response to another question, Burni said that every person inside the bubble has to undergo a process, whether they are cricketers or franchise owners.

“These people have to isolate themselves for three days and that too, after two negative (PCR tests),” he said, adding that still, tough decisions needed to be taken in today’s virtual meeting called by the organising committee with franchise owners and management teams.

In response to another question, Burni said that till March 16, cricket stadiums will host PSL matches for crowds up to 50% of the capacity, in line with the NCOC’s directives.

He said that it would be wrong to say that the PCB had not responsibly managed the bio-secure bubble, repeating that it is very difficult to create a bubble and live inside it.

Burni said that the PCB is reminding the crowds to ensure compliance of the coronavirus SOPs, adding that it is an “ongoing process where there is a lot of room for improvement”.

PSL 2021: Islamabad United, Quetta Gladiators match rescheduled after player tests positive for virus

The PCB media director was speaking a day after an Islamabad United player Fawad Ahmed tested positive for the coronavirus. The match between the Gladiators and United was rescheduled to 7pm today.

In a statement, the PCB had clarified that the coronavirus test results of players from both squads had come back negative. “This is being done to ensure players from both sides get time to prepare for the game,” it had said.

Moreover, the PCB had said that the tickets for the match that have already been bought can be used to watch the match live on Tuesday.

Following the incident, Fawad Ahmed had asked everyone to remember him in their prayers, thanking people for their kind messages.

“Thanks for all the kind messages, please keep me in your prayers, much needed @IsbUnited @thePSLt20, and please everyone stay safe,” he had said.

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