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SAfrica-England ODI delayed again after more COVID-19 cases

Cape Town, Dec 6 : The first one-day international between South Africa and England has been delayed again after more COVID-19 cases were identified at the teams’ hotel in Cape Town, this time among hotel staff members.

Cricket South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a joint statement that Sunday’s game in the nearby city of Paarl was being delayed while England players and management wait for results of a new round of COVID-19 tests.

They didn’t say how long the delay might be.

The first of three ODIs had already been postponed from Friday after a South African player tested positive for the virus on the eve of the game, the third home player to test positive during England’s tour. That test caused concern among both squads because the player seemingly contracted COVID-19 while in the secure bio-bubble at the Cape Town hotel where both teams are staying.

South Africa’s team doctor said there was an investigation underway to try and track how that South African player was infected.

The delay to Sunday’s game came after two hotel staff members tested positive, causing the England party to undergo a round of additional tests on Saturday night, the ECB said. The results were yet to be received but any more positives among players might cause the remainder of the tour to be called off.

South Africa’s squad had to undergo additional tests after the latest player positive that caused the first postponement. All the remaining South African players returned negative tests on Saturday, Cricket South Africa said.

Of the three South African players who have tested positive for the virus during England’s tour, which began in mid-November, two of them tested positive while in the secure environment. One before the three-game Twenty20 series and the latest last week before the ODIs. The first player returned a positive test before both teams went into a 10-day quarantine period at the Cape Town hotel they are sharing ahead of the games.

England’s six-game limited-overs tour was organized at short notice to fill gaps in both teams’ schedules created by the virus pandemic but it also comes while South Africa is seeing signs of a second surge of the virus.

All six games are being played in Cape Town and nearby Paarl to limit travel for players and officials. But the Western Cape province, where they are playing, is one of the regions in South Africa that’s seeing a worrying increase in virus cases.