Two more overseas cricketers and one support staff have tested positive for Covid-19 a day after the game between Islamabad and Quetta Gladiators had to be postponed aftter Fawad Ahmed, the Islamabad legspinner, had returned a positive test. The new positive tests include another player from Islamabad United, but that game is going ahead as rescheduled today, and all players and others to have tested positive have been isolated.
The three new positives came from a total of 244 tests carried out this morning, with one team's results - about 40-45 tests in all - are still awaited. Rapid tests were carried out yesterday, and members of all franchises underwent another round of testing - the PCR test - today, and a special request had been made to process the results of the Islamabad and Quetta contingents first so that their game can go ahead as planned.
A second positive test in Islamabad is not yet a cause for concern with regards to their game; ESPNcricinfo understands that the status of a match is unaffected until five players in one squad test positive.
"We have a virtual meeting with franchise owners and team managements to give them the confidence, assurances, to take their support, reminding them of the protocols and the way forward," PCB's media director Sami-ul-Hasan Burney said at the National Stadium in Karachi on Tuesday. "The organising committee has already sent out a reminder to every stakeholder to exercise extra caution and nobody has been told to go into self-isolation, just a caution that involves using face masks, avoid wandering on the hotel floor, and members who have tested positive will remain in ten days' quarantine. And since yesterday, now PCR tests will be carried out every fourth day."
The 2021 edition of the PSL has had its share of Covid-19 scares, even before these latest cases. On February 21, Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz and coach Daren Sammy had to go into a three-day quarantine, which was later relaxed, after meeting a person - later confirmed to be their team owner Javed Afridi - outside the bio-secure bubble.
Ahmed, it has emerged, tested positive three days ago and was in isolation, but the news became public only before yesterday's game.
"It's tough to find out how these cases have developed and we don't know what are the causes," Hasan said. "But life in a bubble is very difficult and managing it is also very tough. This is happening in other different sports in the world - NFL, NHL, Formula 1 or Australian open - breaches do happen but that doesn't mean the bubble is weak or there are loopholes. So we are carrying out Covid tests all over again on Thursday, and then after every third day.
"It's everyone's responsibility, especially PCB, to protect the credibility of the event, its integrity and its reputation, and that is why we are taking all the measures. Other than this, we have taken some extra steps, making sure the groundstaff at National Stadium use gloves as well, and that we don't reuse the balls that go into the crowd. If it is thrown back into the ground, it is properly sanitised.
"So we are doing every possible thing to make sure the event's credibility isn't affected. But we are operating in a very different environment, even the world is facing similar challenges. Every sports in the world is meeting these challenges and overcoming them and carrying on with their events. We are also putting our efforts with the help of franchises to carry on with the event in a good way, keeping all the excitement and quality and hoping to end it on a high note."