Aug 4, 2020
Nagraj GollapudiNews editor, ESPNcricinfo
- Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
The IPL has laid out a rigorous testing process for players and support staff who will need to clear at least four tests along with a week-long quarantine before they can start training in the UAE. Details of the testing process and frequency feature among the draft document of standard operating procedures (SOPs), which the IPL shared with franchises on Monday.
The SOPs include details on dos and don’ts during travel, lodging and training during the 53-day tournament, which is scheduled to be played at three venues in the UAE – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – between September 19 and November 10. The BCCI is yet to announce the tournament schedule as it awaits a formal nod from the Indian government.
ESPNcricinfo understands that teams have been asked to travel with “minimum” contingents and not before August 20. Among the SOPs, the IPL has permitted families of squad members to travel to the UAE and stay inside the bio-secure bubble, but the final decision on that front will remain with each franchise. However, the IPL has made it mandatory that each team will need to have a medical doctor on board to help the franchise mitigate risks as well educate the squad during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As per the draft SOPs, IPL has recommended to franchises that all members carry out two tests before their squads depart for the UAE. Those two tests will need to be done at 24-hour intervals as per the World Health Organisation norms. They will also need to be done before the player or coaching/support staff member assembles in the city where they will board the flight for the UAE. The validity of the second test result will need to last for at least four days (96 hours) including the date of landing in the UAE.
The player or staff in question can only fly out if both those tests come out negative. Anyone infected will need to undergo the mandatory two-week quarantine period as per the guidelines of the Indian government. After that, the person will need to undergo a fresh set of two tests and clear them before joining the squad in the UAE.
Once the squad lands in the UAE, all members are to undergo another test at the airport before heading to the team hotel. From this point, the IPL testing protocol will kick in.
As per the protocol, every squad will undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine in the team hotel. During this week every squad member will be tested thrice – on days 1, 3 and 6. Once all those results come back negative, the squad can start training.
After that, all squad members will be tested on the fifth day of every week throughout the tournament.
“The IPL has permitted families of squad members to travel to the UAE and stay inside the bio-secure bubble, but the final decision on that front will remain with each franchise.”
As far as the non-Indian players and staff are concerned, they will need to carry the negative result of the test carried out in the last 96 hours before arriving in the UAE.
As per the local rules, during the tournament squads travelling to Abu Dhabi will need to carry negative test results carried out in the previous 48 hours. As per the IPL guidelines, if the weekly test result has expired during the course of travel to Abu Dhabi, squads will need to undergo a fresh test again.
Testing positive during the tournament
In such a scenario, it is understood that the person in question would need to isolate but outside the bubble, considering that aerosols – respiratory droplets – can easily be transmitted. That infected person would be put in a sanitised room within the same hotel. One of the guidelines recommends having a few rooms where the squad is staying to isolate any infected person(s).
No stepping out of the bubble
It is understood the IPL has made it clear no person can go in and out of the bio-secure bubble during the course of the tournament. Strict social distancing norms have been recommended, including squad members discouraged from having any close contact even within the bubble which includes moving between hotel rooms. Squad members have also been asked to wear masks outside their rooms at hotels and avoid any unnecessary movement.
There will be exceptions. If an injured player needs to visit a hospital for X-rays or scans, then the guidelines suggest the movement be restricted to the clinic with minimal interaction with outsiders.
One team per hotel
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As per the guidelines all eight teams will stay in separate hotels. The franchises have been asked to book a hotel or resort exclusively for the squads with no outsiders allowed. If that is not possible, then IPL has recommended they stay somewhere with a separate wing, entrance and exit.
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