COVID-19: Two members of England’s tour party return ‘unconfirmed positive tests’

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Two members of England’s touring party to South Africa have received “unconfirmed positive tests for COVID-19”, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said.

The first one-day international (ODI) against South Africa had already been abandoned after members of staff at the hotel both teams are staying at tested positive for the virus.

The ODI in Paarl was initially postponed on Friday after a member of the South Africa team tested positive, but both teams agreed to resume the series after the Proteas all tested negative on Saturday morning.

That was the third South Africa player to test positive during England’s tour.

But on Sunday it emerged that two members of staff at the Vineyard Hotel were confirmed to have COVID-19 following tests on Friday.

England are on a six-game ODI tour of South Africa
England are on a six-game ODI tour of South Africa

The England squad and backroom staff had a fresh round of tests on Saturday evening and the game, which had been due to start at 8am GMT, was delayed pending the results.

“Following the test results, two members of the England touring party have returned unconfirmed positive tests for Covid-19,” the ECB said.

“The players and management are now self-isolating in their rooms until further advice from the medical teams. The medical advice from both CSA (Cricket South Africa) and the ECB is that the match cannot take place.

“A decision on the remaining matches in the series will be taken once the results of the tests are ratified independently by medical experts.”

Matches scheduled for Monday and Wednesday now appear to be in doubt.

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Sky Sports Cricket’s Michael Atherton said there had “clearly been another breach within the bubble of the hotel”.

He added: “Our understanding is that the hotel staff stay on-site so clearly there is COVID going around in the hotel, so it is worrying.”

Former England captain Nasser Hussain, also speaking on Sky Sports, said it would be a “complete and utter mess” if members of the touring party tested positive.

“Fingers crossed they get retested and it is an anomaly,” he added.

Roy Davies, the hotel’s general manager, said in a statement: “The Vineyard Hotel can confirm that two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, following the positive test of a South African player on Thursday.

“At this stage, it is not clear how the staff members became infected as neither have left the bio-secure area since November 16 and they do not work on the same team or in the same area. Our COVID response team is endeavouring to establish all the facts and contact tracing is under way.”

England’s six-game ODI tour in South Africa was organised at short notice to fill gaps in both teams’ schedule during the pandemic, but comes when the country is seeing signs of a second wave of the virus.

All six games are due to be played in Cape Town and nearby Paarl to limit travel for players and officials.

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