BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — A member of Cricket West Indies’ medical advisory committee, Dr. Akshai Mansingh, has backed the travel and COVID-19 quarantine protocols put in place for the upcoming Bangladesh tour and believes players will not be placed at any unnecessary risk while on international duty.
The Caribbean side is set to arrive in Bangladesh on January 10 for three One-Day Internationals and two Tests, on a series that runs until February 15, their third tour amid the ongoing global pandemic.
Only Sunday, Bangladesh recorded 1,153 new COVID-19 cases to surpass the half-million infection mark to 500,713. There were also 38 new deaths taking the toll to 7,280.
But Dr. Mansingh, who toured Bangladesh as part of an inspection team ahead of the tour, also warned that while the bio-secure bubble would keep players isolated from the general population, the bubble required “everybody playing their part”.
“When we toured England, England was one of the most infected countries in the world with the highest rate of infection, but the conditions were different, in that, what we had in England was what we call a contained bubble where everything was contained in a ground,” Dr. Mansingh said in a radio interview here.
“The hotel was there, the playing ground was there…we were even transported by chartered planes because obviously there were no commercial flights from the Caribbean going that way.
“The integrity of the bubble is contingent upon the discipline of everybody in the bubble and even with that scenario we saw that Jofra Archer was able to slip out and had to be reintegrated… so the integrity of the bubble is just not a plan, it’s everybody playing their part.”
He added: “Now once we get to Bangladesh, we have separate exit areas from which we will go into VIP lounges and will be totally isolated from the general population and from there on in, we’re in our bubble.”
West Indies were the first international team to see action following the global lockdown of cricket when they toured England for a three-Test series last July.
The women’s side followed for a five-match Twenty20 International series in September and the men undertook their second tour last month for three T20Is and two Tests in New Zealand.
And even with COVID cases continuing to surge globally, Dr. Mansingh said he did not believe that air travel subjected players to any danger.
“The rate of transmission in air travel now is extremely low and that’s because of two or three things — [firstly], not that many people are travelling right now,” said Dr. Mansingh, also a member of the International Cricket Council’s medical advisory committee.
“Number two, there are a lot of precautions put in place — for example, when we going there you cannot enter that side of the world without negative COVID tests, so while you can get into the US without a COVID test, you’re not going to get on that plane unless you showed a COVID test within [the last] 72 hours.
“And with that, it was important because you then had the confidence that everybody with you on that flight had a negative test.
“Number [three], everybody has to wear a mask, everybody is given disinfectant and so on, and you’re obviously spaced as well.”
Dr. Mansingh also pointed out that airlines were using onboard filters which purged a high percentage of viruses, and also replenished the air regularly.
However, he once again cautioned that in spite of the strict measures, no protocol was “foolproof”.
“The travel restrictions and precautions are quite careful and those were the same when we went to New Zealand but to say it’s a hundred percent foolproof, well no bubble is and no scenario is, but we’re trying to do that.”