The Pakistan Cricket Board has confirmed that seven more players have tested positive for coronavirus, with a total of ten players now infected ahead of their tour to England in August.
Pakistan announced their 29-man squad for the three-match Test and T20I series two weeks ago. Their preparations have now been dealt a serious blow with Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan and Wahab Riaz joining the Covid-19-infected Shadab Khan, Haider Ali and Haris Rauf.
All ten players will be placed in quarantine and not travel with the rest of the Pakistan squad, who are set to depart for the UK on Sunday.
Despite the disruptions, PCB CEO Wasim Khan says the tour to England will go ahead as planned.
‘The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on 28 June. Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practising immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England.
‘In the meantime, Misbah-ul-Haq [head coach] is reviewing the training schedule in England and is firming up plans for reserve players to be tested as a backup. The recent positive tests of some of the fittest athletes, who had not shown any symptoms, clearly reflect the danger this virus possesses.
‘As regards the players, who have tested positive, we will continue to monitor and support them, including conducting antibody tests, and as soon as they test negative, they will be flown to join the squad in England,’ Khan said.
The rest of the Pakistan squad and management staff will assemble in a bio-secure bubble in Lahore on Wednesday, where they will remain until their departure on Sunday.
Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi also announced two weeks ago that he had tested positive for Covid-19 after doing humanitarian work in rural parts of the country during the lockdown.