Pakistan cricketers' behaviour 'significantly' better since Covid breach in New Zealand

The Pakistan cricket team’s behaviour in their bio-secure facility in Christchurch had “significantly improved” on Friday, just 24 hours after the tourists had been warned about breaching Covid-19 protocols.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health had confirmed on Thursday that six of the 53 touring party members had tested positive for the novel coronavirus upon arrival, while there was also evidence there had been breaches of bio-security rules.

“Since the team was issued with a warning, compliance with MIQ [managed isolation and quarantine] rules in the facility has significantly improved,” it said in a statement.

“We thank members of the team for their co-operation with the case investigations following the announcement of positive cases within the team. Co-operation and compliance are critical in ensuring New Zealand is kept safe from Covid-19.”

Ashley Bloomfield, the country’s director-general of health, on Friday revealed the extent of the team’s breaches.

“Rather than being in their own rooms, which is a requirement for the first three days, there was some mingling in the hallways, chatting, sharing food and not wearing masks,” Bloomfield told Radio New Zealand.

“I don’t know how many times they did that, but it only needs once for us to take a dim view of it. These players signed up to the arrangements in an undertaking that made what was expected of them very clear.

“At the moment, they are all required to be in their rooms, which was the requirement anyway. The training exemption would not have kicked in until after we had the results of the day-three testing, if we were happy with the results.”

The positive results had come from tests administered upon the team’s entry to New Zealand, where all arrivals have to undergo 14 days of isolation. The ministry added that the squad had undergone a second round of Covid testing on Friday.

The team had been given an exemption to train together in small bubbles after the second round of testing but that has been temporarily rescinded after the positive results.

Health officials were still conducting interviews with the squad. Anyone considered to have been in close contact with the six positives will not be allowed to train.

News of the positive tests and the restrictions being placed on the team sparked an angry response from former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who said New Zealand officials had treated them like a club team.

“I want to give a message to New Zealand board that this is not a club team, it’s Pakistan national cricket team,” Shoaib said on his YouTube channel. “We don’t need you. You are talking about Pakistan – the greatest country on the planet – so behave yourself and stop giving such statement. Be careful next time.”