TWO members of England’s squad have been cleared to fly home from South Africa on Thursday after their positive Covid-19 tests were overturned.
Although the men returned positive tests on Sunday, further investigation deemed that they were not infected with the virus and not contagious.
It means team supremo Ashley Giles will not have to remain in South Africa alongside the two, believed to be a player and a member of the coaching staff.
ECB chief medical officer Prof Nick Peirce said: “Following the independent ratification of the two unconfirmed positive Covid-19 tests from the England camp in South Africa, the ECB 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.
“They do not pose any risk of passing on the infection to the rest of the party and, as such, the advice is they are now free to join the rest of the group and are no longer self-isolating. The England party will depart Cape Town for the UK on Thursday morning.”
Team cricket doctor on tour Moiz Moghal spotted anomalies in the original results, suspected they were ‘false positives’ and arranged further tests. The updated information will reduce worries in the England camp.
Giles admitted the players’ high anxiety was the main reason the 50-over series was scrapped on Monday.
A total of five positive tests – one South African player, two hotel staff and the two England personnel – were returned in the space of four days.
But it does beg the question – wouldn’t players have been better off actually playing a couple of matches rather than being stuck in a hotel bio-bubble they do not trust?
England officials rejected any suggestion the team withdrew from the series too quickly, insisting there had been a genuine, worrying and potentially dangerous Covid outbreak.
Instead, they will try to play the three ODIs against the Proteas at a future date.
Five members of England’s group – Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Sam Billings, Lewis Gregory and Jake Ball – will fly by charter to Australia for the Big Bash as long as they pass another Covid test.
Batsman Tom Banton and quick bowler Tom Curran have already pulled out of the Big Bash, citing bubble fatigue.
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