Paul Stirling, Shane Getkate test positive for Covid-19
Andy McBrine and Andy Balbirnie have also been forced to isolate as close contacts
Paul Stirling and Shane Getkate, the Ireland allrounders, are self-isolating in Florida hotel rooms after testing positive for Covid-19 and are set to miss at least the first ODI against West Indies in Jamaica.
Ireland's ODI series against USA was called off at short notice after a string of positive tests on both sides. The touring party are due to fly to Jamaica on December 31 for three ODIs and a T20I, starting on January 8.
Several Ireland players tested positive for Covid before the squad met up earlier this month with their T20I squad down to its bare bones for the USA series. With the squad living in a "managed environment" rather than a strict bio-secure bubble, Stirling and Getkate have tested positive and two further players - Andy McBrine and captain Andy Balbirnie - have been forced to isolate as close contacts.
Cricket Ireland said in a statement that Balbirnie and McBrine are likely to join the squad in Jamaica on January 2, pending further negative tests, with Stirling and Getkate due to leave quarantine on January 9, the day after the first ODI against West Indies.
George Dockrell also returned a positive test but has been given the all-clear to travel to Jamaica with the rest of the squad. Dockrell contracted the virus earlier in December before leaving for Florida and holds a recovery certificate from that infection.
"A managed environment is different to a bio-bubble, and is an approach being used currently to try and find that balance between risk mitigation from the virus and impacts of sustained periods of isolation on the mental and physical health needs of players and staff," Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland's performance director, said. "Part of this new approach is the ability to have several partners travel with the squad. However, these additional people are required to abide by the same testing and travel protocols as the players.
"The transmissibility of this latest strain of the virus has not spared us - nor indeed the USA squad or umpires in our recent series. Overnight, three players have now tested positive. We have seen sport all around the world negatively impacted by this virus still, and like all sporting organisations trying to continue with sport during the pandemic, we are adapting quickly and responding to the needs of those in our duty of care. We have an extended squad with us on this tour, so will be able to cope with these absences pending no further outbreaks."
Harry Tector and Gareth Delany, who both tested positive after playing in a local T20 tournament before the T20I series, have completed their isolation periods and are due to fly to Jamaica on Friday.
The fixtures will be played behind closed doors after Jamaica's minister of local government and rural development announced this week that it was "simply not practical to give the green light for public access" due to the spread of the Omicron variant.