What COVID Testing and Quarantining Measures Is IPL Taking
What are the safety measures IPL teams and officials have to take to stay safe from COVID-19 during the IPL?
An eight-team tournament spanning 53 days during a global pandemic.
How is the BCCI planning to pull off the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season while also assuring the safety of everyone part of the tournament?
For starters, there will be four rounds of COVID-19 testing starting at the camps in India and continuing through the season with a test every fifth day. There will also possibly be two rounds of quarantining of players and support staff with their movement confined to hotel-training-match and the transport to get to each, throughout the tournament. These four areas will comprise the IPL’s ‘Bio-Secure Environment’ where entry is only allowed after multiple rounds of tests and an exit can be made only with permission of the IPL’s medical officer.
6 Tests Before Training Starts in UAE
Slated to leave for the UAE after 20 August, IPL franchises have already started calling players for camps in their home cities where they have started the testing and quarantining process on their own.
But according to the BCCI’s SOP, a total of six tests are required before the teams can even start training in the UAE.
Players and support staff must undergo two COVID-19 PCR tests, 24 hours apart, in the week leading up to their departure for the UAE. Incase anyone is tested positive, they will be asked to quarantine and after 14 days they can undergo two more tests, 24 hours apart, and if both come out negative, then they’re free to join the team in the UAE.
Once the teams land in the city, they will make their way to their home base for the IPL, everyone will be tested at the airport.
Now, from the time they arrive at the team hotel to the time they start training, all players and support staff have to spend seven days in quarantine where they will each be tested three times. During this period, they’re not allowed to meet even their teammates.
- The first test will be conducted on the day of arrival.
- The second test will be done on the third day of their arrival in the UAE.
- The third test will be conducted on the sixth day.
With 24 hours needed for the result to come, on Day 7, if the player or support staff member tests negative all 3 times, they will be allowed to enter the ‘Bio-Secure Environment’ where they will stay for the entire duration of IPL 2020.
Once they’re in, however, the testing doesn't stop as every person is tested every fifth day.
The ‘Bio-Secure Environment’
Once an individual has tested negative all six times for COVID-19, they enter the IPL’s bio-secure environment. But it’s not just players and support staff who are part of it but also everybody else who is involved in the functioning of the IPL – team owners, broadcasters, TV commentators and even hotel staff and the bus drivers who help teams travel from one location to another. Basically, everybody who is involved in the IPL over the stretch of the 53 days.
However, even this bio-secure environment is divided into different zones to avoid interaction and the possible threat of contamination in case any one person tests positive.
- Zone 1 – Players and Match Officials Area (PMOA) and Field of Play (FOP)
- Zone 2 – Inner Zone – All operational areas within the stadium complex
- Zone 3 – Outer Zone – The area outside the stadium complex but within the boundary walls
These are the zones as they apply on a match day and this would also apply on off days. So a player from Zone 1 cannot interact with a commentator from Zone B on an off day, unless they take permission from the IPL Medical Officer.
But, What If Someone Tests Positive?
Despite all the precautions, if someone inside the bio-secure environment tests positive, then there’s an SOP for it.
The person is taken to another facility, or hotel, for 14 days and asked to quarantine, that’s if they’re asymptomatic or they have mild symptoms. If not, they’re of course hospitalised. Contact tracing has to commence immediately.
After 14 days in isolation, if the person wants the re-enter the bio-secure environment they must test negative for COVID-19 twice.
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