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CSA revises bio-bubble norms for India tour

Positive cases inside bubble can isolate within hotel room; close contacts can continue to train

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Only 2000 fans are likely to be permitted to the venues  •  Associated Press

Only 2000 fans are likely to be permitted to the venues  •  Associated Press

Immediate contacts of anyone testing positive for covid-19 in the bubble during South-Africa India series will not need to isolate. The person who has tested positive will also not need to leave the bubble, and will be allowed to quarantine in the hotel room as long as they are "clinically stable".
These are part of the "strict" norms for the Bio-secure Environment (BSI) put in place by Cricket South Africa in coordination with BCCI as the Indian contingent is set to arrive in Johannesburg later this week.
With all members in the BSI being fully vaccinated, both boards have agreed it would be easy to deal with any positive case within the bubble.
"Considering that all those within the ecosystem will be vaccinated, the positive case will isolate within the hotel room if clinically stable," CSA's chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra told ESPNcricinfo. "Contacts will continue playing and training with non-medical interventions strictly observed, and tested daily."
CSA had originally put together a more relaxed bio-bubble plans after the third wave of the pandemic receded in South Africa in October. These have have now been modified following the emergence and quick global surge of Omicron, the latest covid-19 variant.
"Whilst at the end of the third wave we considered moving from a strict BSE to a managed environment, the Omicron variant and high levels of community transmission have forced a strict BSE," Manjra stated.
Omicron was first detected in November in the Gauteng province by local public health experts who shared the findings with the World Health Organisation and other countries. In a stern warning to the world, the WHO said Omicron carried a "very high global risk" and "another major surge" in infections/death could be "severe".
Despite that grim message the BCCI decided to carry on with the India's tour of South Africa albeit after a rejig in schedule. The T20I leg of the tour has been scrapped altogether for now, with the Tests that were to start on December 16 now beginning on Boxing Day.
The first indication of India's willingness to go ahead with the tour came after BCCI allowed the India A team to complete their shadow tour comprising three four-day fixtures against South Africa A. That series was played entirely in Bloemfontein behind closed doors.
Asked whether crowds would be allowed during the India tour, Manjra remained optimistic. "According to government regulations only 2000 fans currently are permitted."
However fresh restrictions from the South African government later this week could potentially have an impact on crowd presence. South Africa currently remains on adjusted alert Level 1 - the most lenient restrictions since the pandemic began - with open borders, a midnight to 4am curfew, mandatory face-mask wearing and indoor and outdoor gatherings limited to 750 or 2000 people respectively.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to tighten these measures over the festive period, which begins on Thursday, a public holiday, and will last until after New Year's Day. The NCCC will meet on Tuesday with an announcement set to come before Thursday.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent