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New Zealand maintains ban on Pakistan team’s training

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand health officials refused to lift a ban on Pakistan’s coronavirus-hit cricket team training during quarantine after the number of infections climbed to ten.

The team players were confined to their rooms when the first cases emerged last week but had hoped to resume training before finishing their stint in isolation on Tuesday. However, health chiefs said the risk of further infections was too great.

Ten people among the 53-member tour party have tested positive for COVID-19 while completing two weeks of isolation in Christchurch.

“I have very carefully considered this situation,” director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement. “At this time, I continue to have ongoing concerns about the risk of cross-infection within the squad.”

The decision means that Pakistan’s cricketers will have only 10 days to prepare for their first tour match, a T20 international in Auckland on December 18.

Bloomfield said the decision was prompted by the number of active cases detected among the squad. “Public health considerations will continue to be foremost in our response to Covid-19, whether this involves individuals or teams,” he said. “We appreciate the challenges that this decision will have for the touring team.”

Last week, Bloomfield issued the team with a “final warning” for flouting social distancing protocols at their hotel and no further breaches have been reported since.

The tourists arrived in New Zealand on November 24 and are scheduled to play three T20s and two Tests. New Zealand has largely eradicated community transmission of coronavirus and has recorded just 1,713 cases and 25 deaths.