WELLINGTON (Agencies): Three more members of the touring Pakistan cricket squad have returned positive tests to Covid-19, according to the New Zealand health ministry. According to TVNZ, in a significant setback to Pakistan’s hopes of a competitive series against the Black Caps, the latest cases mean 10 of the 53-strong group have tested positive for coronavirus since arriving in New Zealand last month.
Pakistan’s players and staff are completing a fortnight in isolation, as is compulsory on arrival in New Zealand, in a Christchurch hotel. The Covid-19 cases mean none of the group have received permission to leave their hotel to train. The touring party has also earned rebukes from health officials for breaching NZ’s strict quarantine rules by mingling in their hotels. On Monday, the 46 members of the squad to have previously tested negative to Covid-19 were re-tested. Health authorities said 42 returned another negative test result but three were under investigation “to determine whether they are historical cases” – and therefore not infectious – and one result was pending. A Ministry of Health spokeswoman clarified the three had returned positive PCR tests.
Pakistan’s tour is set to begin with a 20/20 clash at Eden Park on December 18. “Day 6 swabs were taken yesterday from the 46 members of the Pakistan cricket squad in Christchurch who to date have returned negative test results for Covid-19,” said the spokesperson of New Zealand health ministry. “Of those, 42 have subsequently returned a further negative test result. Three are under investigation to determine whether they are historical cases, and one test result is pending,” the spokesperson added.
However, the spokesperson added that the team is still not allowed to train until the Canterbury DHB medical officer of health are satisfied that any training activities are unlikely to become the source of transmission.
It is worth mentioning that six members of the squad had tested positive on day 1 of testing and subsequently quarantined. Two of them were later deemed “historical” cases, and therefore “non-infectious” and allowed to rejoin the squad. Another player had tested positive on day 3, which means the Pakistan squad now has five active cases of Covid-19.
On Saturday, the New Zealand Health authorities conducted serology (blood) testing on all 53 members present in Christchurch. As a result, a further 11 people – in addition to the aforesaid pair – returned positive serology indicating previous “historic” infections.
When contacted to further understand “historical cases, an official said that people who have previously had Covid-19, sometimes produce “weak” positive test results weeks or months afterwards.
“To reiterate, these people (historic cases) are not infectious and don’t pose a risk to others,” the authorities explained.