A total of 10 Pakistani cricket players have tested positive for COVID-19 during a round of tests ahead of the squad assembling for their tour of England, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced.
Initially, three players – Haider Ali, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan – were revealed to have tested positive, before a further seven names – Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz – were added to the list a day later.
In addition, one member of support staff, team masseur Malang Ali, has also tested positive, reports the International Cricket Council.
None of the 35 players and support staff tested – including the 11 who tested positive – were displaying symptoms before testing according to PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan.
"The recent positive tests of some of the fittest athletes, who had not shown any symptoms, clearly reflect the danger this virus possesses," Khan said in a press statement. "As such, and on behalf of the PCB, I once again request the public to strictly adhere to all safety precautions as advised and recommended by the federal and provincial governments to ensure their health and safety as well as of their dear and near ones.
"As regards the players, who have tested positive, we will continue to monitor and support them, including conducting antibody tests, and as soon as they test negative, they will be flown to join the squad in England. At the moment, they have been advised to go into self-isolation so that they not only recover quickly but also prevent their other family members from being infected."
Despite the setback, Khan insisted that the tour to England was not under threat, though he confirmed contingency plans were being put together for replacements should more players test positive during later rounds of testing.
"The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on 28 June. Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practising immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England.
"In the meantime, Misbah-ul-Haq is reviewing the training schedule in England and is firming up plans for reserve players to be tested as a backup."
According to the PCB, players who have tested negative will undergo a second round of testing on Thursday, having assembled together in a bio-secure environment in Lahore. Those who test negative a second time will then depart for England, where they will be tested once more within 24 hours of arrival. They will then enter a two-week qurantine, as per UK government regulations, during which they will be able to train in a bio-secure environment.
Players who test positive, or have already tested positive, throughout this process will be able to rejoin the squad after they have finished their minimum quarantine period and subsequently returned two negative tests.