May 22, 2022

Concerns Over India Tour To South Africa Amid Rise Of New COVID-19 Variant

The new variant of COVID-19, which threatens to wreak havoc in South Africa, has raised considerable concerns over the rainbow nation’s Indian tour next month, BCCI sources claiming that any decision on the question will be based on government advice.

The ongoing India A tour in South Africa, including three unofficial tests in Bloemfontein, could also be canceled halfway given the uncertain situation which has prompted several visiting sportsmen to seek a way out of the country.

Also read: Indian experts urge caution as new variant of coronavirus emerges in South Africa

The first game ended in a draw due to bad weather on Friday and the second game begins on November 29. The team is currently in a bio-bubble and the matches are played without spectators.

The Indian seniors, during a nearly seven-week mission starting Dec. 17, are expected to play three tests, three ODIs and four T20 internationals at four venues – Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl and Cape Town.

“Let’s wait and watch, we will follow the advice of the government. This is an evolving situation,” said a source from the BCCI. PTI Friday.

The Foreign Ministry, when asked about the tour and the rise of the new variant, said on Friday: “… this is a problem that concerns our health authorities and civil aviation authorities more. is a developing story. ” Cases are on the rise in the north of the country and at least two sites in the Test series – Johannesburg and Pretoria (near Centurion) – could become vulnerable to the spread of the new variant.

Read also: Explained | What is the new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa?

“Look, until we get a detailed picture of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) ground situation, we won’t be able to say our next step. Under the current plan, the Indian squad is supposed to leave on December 8th. or 9 right after the New Zealand series ended in Mumbai, “the source said.

For now, the tour is underway, but it is understood that BCCI, in the coming days, will speak with Cricket South Africa on the detection of the new variant – B.1.1.529 – which has sounded the alarm. the globe.

Scientists believe the high number of cutting edge mutations could make the new variant more resistant to vaccines, make it more transmissible and cause an increase in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

On Friday, it was reported that the Netherlands withdrew from their ongoing tour of South Africa as the first ODI between the two teams was played at Centurion, the venue of the other two matches as well.

Cricket South Africa said a decision would only be made within the next two days as flight options for travelers were affected by travel bans that went into effect due to the new variant.

“A decision on whether to continue the series will follow within the next 24 to 48 hours, as all flight options are considered,” Cricket South Africa said as speculation swirled.

“Both councils can confirm that after updated information it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to leave South Africa over the weekend,” he added.

The BCCI official indicated that although players will be sent on a charter flight from Mumbai to Johannesburg, there is a possibility of submitting them to three to four days of difficult quarantine upon arrival given the new circumstances, which according to the board, will not deteriorate. further away.

“Initially there was no provision for a hard quarantine, but players will obviously remain in a bio-bubble. Now, with the increase in cases in South Africa and the temporary cancellation of flights in the Union European Union, we have to take these aspects into account, “said a main source at BCCI. noted.

PTI also contacted a member of the administrative staff who is currently in Bloemfontein with the India A team.

“We did not undergo any hard quarantine when we arrived here as we came by charter flight and are staying in a bio-bubble. After the outbreak, a medical team from Cricket South Africa had a meeting with our representatives here.

“We were told there was nothing to worry about as the peak of cases is far away from Bloemfontein where we would also be playing our next game,” the official said by phone.

“We were specifically told that Bloemfontein is not affected by the peak of COVID-19 cases and that it is also happening in the north of the country,” he added.

He also informed that as on Friday, Team A did not receive any instructions from BCCI.

“For now, the BCCI has not suggested that we interrupt the tour halfway. We will do as we are told. For the moment, the players are going to their gym session,” he said. he declares.

“We have nothing to say about the bio bubble because the two teams stay in the same hotel, even the catering staff and the ground staff are in the bubble.

“Yesterday when we heard about a new variant we immediately contacted and requested an emergency meeting with the CSA medical team … We can only count on updates and guidance from CSA . “