Positive cases inside the bubble can isolate themselves in the hotel room; close contacts can continue to form
Immediate contacts of anyone who tested positive for covid-19 in the bubble during the South African round in India will not need to be isolated. The person who tests positive will not need to exit the bubble either, and will be allowed to self-quarantine in the hotel room as long as they are “clinically stable”.
These are part of the “strict” biosecure environment (BSI) standards put in place by Cricket South Africa in coordination with BCCI as the Indian contingent is due to arrive in Johannesburg later this week.
With all BSI members fully vaccinated, the two boards agreed that any positive case within the bubble would be easy to deal with.
“Considering that all members of the ecosystem will be vaccinated, the positive case will isolate itself in the hotel room if it is clinically stable,” CSA chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra told ESPNcricinfo. “Contacts will continue to play and train with non-medical procedures strictly observed and tested daily.”
The CSA had initially developed more relaxed bio-bubble plans after the third wave of the pandemic pulled out of South Africa in October. These have now been changed following the emergence and rapid global boom of Omicron, the latest variant of covid-19.
“While at the end of the third wave, we considered moving from a strict BSE to a managed environment, the Omicron variant and the high levels of community transmission forced strict BSE,” Manjra said.
Omicron was first detected in November in Gauteng province by local public health experts who shared the results with the World Health Organization and other countries. In a stern warning to the world, the WHO said Omicron poses a “very high global risk” and that “another major increase” in infections / deaths could be “serious”.
The first indication of India’s willingness to continue the tour came after BCCI allowed Indian team A to complete their ghost tour comprising three four-day matches against South Africa A. This series s ‘is played entirely in Bloemfontein behind closed doors.
When asked if crowds would be allowed during the India tour, Manjra remained optimistic. “According to government regulations, only 2,000 fans are currently allowed.”
However, further restrictions from the South African government later this week could potentially impact crowd attendance. South Africa currently remains on adjusted level 1 alert – the most lenient restrictions since the start of the pandemic – with open borders, a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew, mandatory face masks and indoor and outdoor gatherings limited to 750 or 2000 people respectively.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to tighten these measures during the holiday season, which begins Thursday, a statutory holiday, and will last until after New Year’s Day. The NCCC will meet on Tuesday with an announcement scheduled before Thursday.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent in South Africa