Cricket South Africa (CSA) revises bio-bubble norms for India tour

Anyone who tests positive for covid-19 in the bubble during the South Africa-India series will not need to isolate their immediate contacts. The person who tested positive will not be required to leave the bubble and will be permitted to quarantine in the hotel room as long as they are “clinically stable.” These are part of Cricket South Africa’s “strict” Bio-secure Environment (BSI) rules put in place in collaboration with the BCCI as the Indian delegation prepares to travel to Johannesburg later this week.

With all members of the BSI properly vaccinated, both boards agreed that dealing with any positive cases within the bubble would be simple. “Because everyone in the ecosystem will be vaccinated,” CSA’s head medical officer Shuaib Manjra stated. “The positive patient will be isolated within the hotel room if clinically stable. Contacts will continue to play and practice while non-medical interventions are closely monitored and tested on a regular basis.”

After the third wave of the pandemic passed through South Africa in October, the CSA devised more relaxed bio-bubble plans. Following the development and rapid global spread of Omicron, the most recent covid-19 strain, these have been updated.

“While we explored switching from a rigorous BSE to a managed environment at the end of the third wave, the Omicron variant and high levels of community transmission have required a stringent BSE,” Manjra said.

Local public health experts initially discovered Omicron in November in the Gauteng region and communicated their results with the World Health Organization and other countries. The WHO issued a strong warning to the rest of the globe, stating that Omicron poses a “very high global danger” and that “another large rise” in infections/death might be “serious.” Despite the dire warning, the BCCI chose to go through with India’s visit to South Africa, although with some changes to the schedule. The T20I phase of the tour has been canceled for the time being, with the Tests set to begin on Boxing Day instead of December 16.

The first sign of India’s desire to go ahead with the visit came when the BCCI allowed India A squad to finish their shadow tour, which consisted of three four-day matches against South Africa A, all of which were played behind closed doors in Bloemfontein. When asked if crowds will be permitted on the India tour, Manjra expressed optimism. “At the moment, only 2000 fans are permitted under government regulations.”

However, further restrictions imposed by the South African government later this week may have an effect on crowd size. South Africa is still on modified alert Level 1 – the mildest restrictions since the outbreak began – with open borders, midnight to 4 am curfew, required face masks, and indoor and outdoor gatherings limited to 750 and 2000 people, respectively. The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is anticipated to strengthen these restrictions during the holiday season, which begins on Thursday, a national holiday, and ends after New Year’s Day. The NCCC will convene on Tuesday, with a decision expected by Thursday.