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One day after news that an India international was among ten-plus Chennai Super Kings contingent members to test positive for Covid-19, it has emerged that one more player, uncapped at the highest level, has also tested positive for the virus. This, even as Suresh Raina has returned home because of "personal reasons" and the team's training sessions pushed back until at least after September 1.
The BCCI issued a statement on Saturday saying, a total of 1988 RT-PCR Covid tests were carried out between August 20 and 28 "across all participant groups in the UAE" which include "Players, Support Staff, Team Management, BCCI Staff, IPL Operational team, Hotel and ground transport Staff.
"13 personnel have tested positive of which 2 are players. All the affected personnel as well as their close contacts are asymptomatic and have been isolated from other team members. They are being monitored by the IPL Medical Team."
Though the statement did not mention which team those 13 personnel are from, it is understood they are all from the Super Kings camp. One of those found positive is the wife of a senior franchise official, though the official himself has tested negative.
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The infected persons are understood to have been moved to a different hotel from the one the team is housed in, and are being monitored by medical personnel behind closed doors.
As a result of these developments, the Super Kings have been forced to postpone the start of their training sessions in Dubai to September 1. According to the IPL's Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs), all those who tested positive will now need to undergo at least two weeks of further quarantine and clear two more tests before they can rejoin the group.
It is believed that the positive test results are from the final round of testing in the UAE, which is part of IPL's Covid-19 protocols comprising three tests that are mandatory for every person who is part of the tournament. According to the protocol, every person must be tested at the airport upon landing in the UAE, followed by two tests at the hotel on days three and six. The protocol also makes it mandatory for everyone to undergo a six-day quarantine after landing, when they are not supposed to mingle even with team members or colleagues. Only once the squad members clear all the mandatory tests can teams start their training.
The IPL is to start on September 19, but the schedule is yet to be finalised. The development is bound to put the IPL on alert simply because the Super Kings, who finished runners-up in 2019, are expected to play defending champions Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener.
"If there are 13 cases from only one franchise then it is an issue for sure for everyone," an unnamed official was quoted as saying by PTI. "The biggest aspect will be whether foreign cricketers will now start being panicky as they are more touchy about these issues. We need to keep a tab on players' mental health."