Englands tests for coronavirus come back negative after previous ‘unconfirmed positives’ in South Africa

Two members of England’s touring party who returned “unconfirmed positives” for Covid-19 in South Africa have since tested negative for the virus, the ECB’s chief medical officer Nick Pierce has confirmed.

The decision to postpone England’s one-day international series in South Africa was taken yesterday, on medical grounds, after a positive test among the Proteas squad led to the first game, due to take place last Friday, being rescheduled before two members of staff at the team hotel were confirmed as testing positive on Sunday, leading to the abandonment of the match in Paarl that day.

England announced their two “unconfirmed positives” later on Sunday but further analysis has shown that the individuals are not infected and are no longer required to self-isolate.

  • England’s ODI series in South Africa postponed
  • ‘Bubble breach the final straw for players’

An ECB statement read: “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.

“As such, the advice is they are now free to join the rest of the group and are no longer self-isolating.”

Despite the series having been called off, England will remain in Cape Town for the next two days before departing on Thursday morning as planned.

‘Bubble breach the final straw’

The decision was made to postpone the series before the re-examined test results came back with Cricket South Africa and the ECB announcing that it was a joint decision “to ensure the mental and physical health and welfare of players from both teams”.

After a number of coronavirus cases inside the bio-secure bubble since the start of the tour, Sky Sports pundit and former England captain Nasser Hussain believes the timing of the most recent cases proved decisive in the decision after a year in which many of the players have spent months in various ‘bubbles’ around the world.

“I think it was the final straw when that bubble was breached – the players must have gone ‘enough’,” he said. “The ECB and CSA are absolutely right to look after the mental wellbeing of their players. It’s the timing. If this bubble breakdown had happened right at the start of the tour, they could have fixed it and the players could have had a week of doing nothing and then carried on.

“The last thing any of those players want is to pick up Covid from a bubble that has been breached and take that home or take it to Australia – that’s their worst-case scenario.

“There is no good time to get Covid but getting it now and taking it back home to relatives is an absolute nightmare. They weren’t willing to risk it. It probably wouldn’t have happened but in the back of their hotel room, they were probably thinking ‘can we get out now please?'”

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