Six Pakistan cricket players test positive for Covid-19 in New Zealand

Six Pakistan cricketers have tested positive for Covid-19 and the whole squad issued with a “final warning” by the New Zealand government after breaching rules while in isolation in Christchurch.

Plans for Pakistan’s upcoming Twenty-20 and Test series against New Zealand have been thrown into chaos, with six team members moved into quarantine and the team’s exemption to train while in isolation 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.

New Zealand Cricket 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, the team were not allowed to socialise, eat or train together outside their small bubbles while in isolation.

The health ministry said “the team as a whole has been issued with a final warning”. “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 Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“We will be having discussions with the tourists to assist them in understanding the requirements,” NZC said. “While this is disappointing for the Pakistan squad, the testing outcomes and the actions taken show the government system is working.

“NZC considers public health and safety to be paramount in the hosting of international teams, and is supportive of the Ministry of Health and government position.”

The touring West Indies side also fell foul of the regulations earlier this month and had their training exemption revoked.

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.

Earlier this week, opener Fakhar Zaman was left out of Pakistan’s touring party as a precautionary measure after he developed a fever before the team’s departure on Monday.

There has been no community transmission of Covid in New Zealand for the past two weeks. On 11 November, a single case in central Auckland caused the shutdown of the CBD for a day.