JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Mar 18 – Members of the South African cricket team have been told to undergo a 14-day period of self-isolation and social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus following their return from an aborted tour of India.
The players arrived back in South Africa on Wednesday ten days after departing on a tour during which they played no cricket.
The first of three scheduled one-day internationals was abandoned without a ball bowled because of rain and the remaining two were cancelled.
Dr Shuaib Manjra, Cricket South Africa’s medical officer, who accompanied the team on the tour, during which they stayed in or travelled through Dubai, Delhi, Dharamsala, Lucknow and Kolkata, said the cancellation had been decided because of the rapid change in the global coronavirus situation.
“CSA had engaged in a risk assessment before the tour,” said Dr Manjra. “We deemed the risk to be very low. While on tour the world became a different place and we had to take cognisance of the fact that there was a change in the global environment.”
He said the risks were re-assessed, especially the possibility of borders being closed. “Ultimately the players’ frame of mind was the determining factor,” he said, adding the players had been concerned about their families and what was happening in South Africa.
Dr Manjra said the team had effectively been in isolation in India and had travelled on chartered flights and coaches in a sanitised environment.
But he said it had been decided to follow expert guidance on prevention of the spread of the virus.
“We’ve educated the players about the disease,” he said. “We’ve recommended that all players self-isolate and social-distance themselves for a minimum of 14 days to protect people around them and their communities.”
England’s tour of Sri Lanka has also been postponed as the coronavirus pandemic has virtually wiped out the global sporting calendar for the next few months.