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Pakistan have training exemption revoked in New Zealand, tour likely to continue

10 members of the 53-strong Pakistan squad have tested positive for the virus since arriving in New Zealand

PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

The Pakistan cricket team have had their exemption to train during managed isolation in Christchurch withdrawn due to several members of the squad testing positive for the novel coronavirus, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said on Friday.

10 members of the 53-strong Pakistan squad have tested positive for the virus since arriving in New Zealand.

“I have very carefully considered this situation,” Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement. “At this time, I continue to have ongoing concerns about the risk of cross-infection within the squad.

“There have been a number of active cases identified among the team. Public health considerations will continue to be foremost in our response to Covid-19, whether this involves individuals or teams.

“We appreciate the challenges that this decision will have for the touring team.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wasim Khan had asked the players and management’s feedback on whether to continue the tour bearing in mind the lack of training but, so far, the touring party is confident about playing the matches and are not considering the possibility of returning back home.  

“Players have passed the difficult phase and are eager to get back on the field but it was important to take their opinion considering the situation,” said PCB Director Media Sami Burney.

Under the exemption the squad would have been allowed to train in small groups from the fourth day of their mandatory 14-day isolation until they were released next week.

The initial positive tests that were discovered upon their arrival, however, prompted Bloomfield to temporarily suspend the exemption until the Health Ministry completes an investigation.

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The squad were also warned for breaching bio-security regulations last week.

Pakistan were scheduled to have a four-day game starting on December 10 against New Zealand ‘A’ upon their release from isolation, but opted instead to play a series of intra-squad matches, New Zealand Cricket said on Thursday.

The tourists are due to play three Twenty20 internationals and two tests from December 18, while a Pakistan ‘A’ tour will also be held concurrently.