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Seven additional Pakistan players test positive for coronavirus
Coronavirus Pandemic

Seven additional Pakistan players test positive for coronavirus

Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of infectees to 10 following the first round of testing ahead of the England tour.

The positive results of these seven players come after Shadab Khan, Haider Ali and Haris Rauf were confirmed to have contracted the virus.

Additionally, one member of the player support personnel, masseur Malang Ali, has also tested positive for coronavirus.

The remaining players in the extended 29-man squad who tested negative today include Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmad, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, and Yasir Shah.

Shoaib Malik has not been tested yet as he has been allowed to spend time with his family before joining the squad at a later date while bowling coach Waqar Younis and team physiotherapist Cliffe Deacon will link up with the touring party directly from Australia and South Africa respectively.

Despite more than one-third of the squad being affected by the virus, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan insisted that the team will travel to England as per schedule.

“The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on 28 June," he said.

"Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practicing immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England."

Rizwan's unavailability for the Tests presents a golden opportunity for back-up wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed to make a comeback to the national side. Sarfaraz had been stripped of captaincy last year and was demoted in the recently released central contract list but the latest turn of events paves the way for his return to the Test setup.

“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," Wasim added as the selectors had earlier named four reserve players.

With none of the players exhibiting symptoms for the virus, Wasim noted that this showed the level of threat this disease poses.

“The recent positive tests of some of the fittest athletes, who had not shown any symptoms, clearly reflect the danger this virus possesses.

"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."

The PCB has promised to closely monitor the process of recovery for the players before they would be given permission to board the plane to England for the international assignment.

“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," Wasim concluded.

The 18 players and accompanying support personnel, who tested negative, will now assemble in Lahore for a second round of testing on June 25. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, they will observe a two-week quarantine period and then train at a "bio-secure" facility according to the SOPs.

Pakistan's squad will have to undergo at least five tests, including daily monitoring of the temperature and symptoms, leading up to the first Test against England.