Positive Case To Isolate, Matches Go On: For India-South Africa Tour, Covid Rules
India vs South Africa: Positive cases will isolate and matches will go on, CSA's chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra told NDTV in an interview on Wednesday.
- India will take on South Africa in the 1st Test from December 26
- India are scheduled to play three Tests and three ODIs on the tour
- India Tour of South Africa: The T20I leg of the tour will be played later
The Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have come to an agreement that the upcoming Test and ODI series between the two teams will continue even if there is an isolated case of COVID-19 among players or support staff. It has also been agreed between the two boards that close contacts will not be forced into isolation, CSA's chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra told NDTV in an interview on Wednesday. India are slated to play three Tests against the Proteas -- in Centurion (December 26-30), Johannesburg (January 3-7) and Cape Town (Jan 11-15). The two sides will subsequently play three ODIs -- on January 19, 21 and 23.
Here are the excerpts of Manjra's interview to NDTV:
With the increase in the number of COVID cases after the emergence of the Omicron variant, what challenges do you face ahead of the India series?
We have passed the major challenges in South Africa. Most scientists have predicted that South Africa have passed the peak of the fourth wave. The number of cases are coming down dramatically. Particularly, the area where first two Tests are to be played, we have passed the peakc. We had a large number of cases and what the Omicron variant has done is that the peak was reached on 3-4 weeks, half the time in which other variants reached their peak. There was a dramatic rise to the number of cases but in much shorter time and now we are on the downward trajectory, so we feel we have passed the worst part of the pandemic. I mean, we have taken all our precautions. For example: we have got the Indian team in completely isolated bio bubble, the staff has been tested 2 weeks before the Indian team arrived, they were isolated on the hotel before a week of Indian team's arrival. We have been testing them regularly and similarly at the stadium we had bio secure environment. We have isolated Indian team completely, even the staff at the hotel where they would be staying. So we have created a solid bio-safe environment.
What is the plan in case any player is tested positive?
There are two scenarios. One, if you test positive before you enter the bubble, in that case we will keep people out until they test negative or they are part of the 10-14-day quarantine period.
Secondly, if they test positive post entering the bio safe environment, then we would isolate them within the hotel if they are clinically stable. If they are unstable clinically then they would be moved to a safe hospital but we would isolate them in a room, provide meals and everything in the room itself. Rest of the players should continue with the activities and we would symptom monitor them and would test them everyday for 7 days.
So what is to be done with the close contact or casual contact? Do they stay within the bubble? And does this mean that the positive player moves out of the bubble?
No, the hotel in which the Indian team is staying currently is fully dedicated to them and the person would be isolated within his room. When they move to Cape Town, part of the hotel is dedicated to team India. We could move them into the space out of the BSE (bio secure environment) which is part of the same hotel. We had a long discussion with the Indian medical team over close contacts. and it was actually their recommendation that in trying to create a close contact from a casual contact is a fool's errand; sometimes it's impossible to do that, and it depends on how you define it in the memory of the player. So we decided as everyone is fully vaccinated, we would test every member for 7 days in any such scenario. Interestingly, ministerial advisory committee has advised to the government, though it hasn't been considered yet, they advised to do away with the contact tracing.
Is there enough medical staff inside the bubble atmosphere?
Both teams have got a doctor here, a physiotherapist. So yes there is enough medical staff. As I said, if they are clinically unstable and they need further care, then they would be moved to a hospital. But if they are stable they would need to be looked after by their team physician.
What if there is any other emergency for which the player is to be moved out of the bubble ?
If three is a player who is to be moved out, it depends on what it is for. If he is to be admitted to a facility, then that individual will have to be back to the BSE within a period of 5 days. But if it is just for an appointment or an MRI scan then we have created green zones within hospitals. Players would move and operate within these green zones. They would move in and out of the BSE with full PPE.
What would happen if the borders are closed in case of any emergency, what would happen to Team India then?
I can tell you the possibility of borders closing is as close to zero percent as you can get. Our government has no intention of closing the borders. In fact, we have no intention of lockdowns currently, we are still at level 1 (of restrictions). Still, in the event there is a closure, Indian team has come on a chartered aircraft and we would make arrangements for them to leave with no problems.
We know that CSA hosted a successful Sri Lanka tour inside a bubble but for this tour, had to sacrifice a few matches as well as spectators. Dean Elgar mentioned it's disappointing but safety first for CSA?
Yes, absolutely. In a sense, that we do not have a choice (with). It's gazetted by the government in terms of the disaster management act that they would not allow more than 2000 spectators within the stadium. We could have put in an application to the government but with the current fourth wave upon us it's highly unlikely that the government would have approved. But also from the safety and health point of view, we thought it wouldn't be wise to have spectators on the ground at this point of time. Because we know that Omicron variant is highly transmissible and it's a high risk so clearly we don't want to become a super spreader event. It's disappointing that we don't have crowds but the 2000 number still stays and we can use it to our discretion whether it's for hospitality or for suites.