England’s Ashes tour of Australia is set to continue as planned despite an outbreak of six positive Covid cases within the touring party.
Crucially no players have yet tested positive following a round of PCR testing that was conducted on Monday, which meant the third day of the third Test could get underway as scheduled.
Concerns remain over the spread of the virus though which has infected three support staff and three corresponding family members.
Even though they are all isolating away from the rest of the group, there could yet be a lag between infection and a positive test, which is why the entire tour party were due to undertake another round of PCR testing following day three at the MCG.
It is likely that there will also be further tests carried out before they fly to Sydney on Friday to ensure as best as possible that there are no positive cases on the charter flight that is due to carry both teams to New South Wales.
The Covid related restrictions on the players and families in Sydney is expected to remain at level four, the same as in Melbourne which means no indoor dining and mixing with fans for selfies or autographs, but shopping and outdoor dining activities are still permitted.
The news that both playing groups returned negative tests will have come as a huge relief to Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley, who had been hoping that the tour would continue and therefore keep the broadcasting money rolling into the governing body.
“The tour is not in doubt,” said Hockley. “I think this is what we have been working towards, this is what the protocols are for.
“We are being extra vigilant as there are increasing cases in the community but our protocols are designed for absolutely this set of events.
“We’ve got strong protocols, comprehensive testing and the players have been fantastic.
“We just need to remain calm, get the facts, everyone needs to follow medical advice and on that basis we keep going.
“In Sydney we have an exclusive property for the playing group and we’re flying there by charter.
“Everyone now is on high alert, everyone is being extra cautious. It’s ultimately about common sense.”