England’s two positive Covid-19 tests were confirmed on Tuesday as being two false positives, vindicating Cricket South Africa’s bio-secure protocols for their cancelled ODI series, although chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra did say there will always be some risk involved in the bubble, unless there’s a vacancy for two cricket teams and their staff in some infectious diseases laboratory.
The chief medical officer of the England team, Professor Nick Peirce, issued a statement on Tuesday saying: “Following the independent ratification of the two unconfirmed positive Covid-19 tests from the England camp in South Africa, the England and Wales Cricket Board can confirm that, following further testing and analysis, in the opinion of the independent virologists based in Cape Town and London, the two individuals are not infected, and do not pose any risk of passing on the infection to the rest of the party.”
Manjra told The Citizen on Tuesday that he was relieved by the news.
“I always suspected that they were not true positives and I am glad that England have now confirmed that; it provides some comfort and some vindication,” Manjra said.
“We can’t run away from the fact though that we had three positive tests in the bubble, but that is not that unusual – the English Premier League and the IPL are both in bubbles and they have had positives.
“It is unrealistic to expect there to be zero risk. This new normal is about how we deal with positive tests and how we prevent other people getting infected; that’s what risk management is about and I think we did a reasonable job.
“The only really bio-safe place you’re going to find is an infectious diseases lab. I think England are victims of their own success in running their bubble and their expectations are unsustainable,” Manjra said.
While those cricket-lovers of a religious persuasion will be praying that Sri Lanka don’t get scared off from touring by the events of the last few days, Manjra said their bubble would be more secure because England had insisted on relaxations in certain areas, such as allowing their squad to play golf in Paarl.
“England’s major issue was the mental health of their players in a confined space so they insisted on some opportunities to chill, for social interaction and to play golf. So our bubble was not as draconian as it was in England and they were willing to take that risk to go and play golf. I would say The Vineyard Hotel was actually the safest place in South Africa, they were fantastic,” Manjra said.
“Sri Lanka have expressed their concern but I would give them an assurance that we will create a bio-safe environment, we will improve on the model of the England tour because it will be a bit more stringent. Both teams will be staying at the same hotel again, with all staff living on the same site.
“But the Irene Country Club has wonderful recreational facilities with a golf course and a big dam on site,” Manjra said.