Wellington: New Zealand director of public health Caroline McEnlay believes half a dozen Pakistan players, who were tested positive days after arrival in New Zealand, may have contracted the infection before leaving for the Kiwi tour.
Seven members of the Pakistan touring squad tested positive for coronavirus days after their arrival in New Zealand on November 24.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) CEO Wasim Khan had told the team that the New Zealand government had given them a "final warning" after the side breached quarantine protocols.
McEnlay said the coronavirus may have been incubating in cricketers prior to boarding the flight to New Zealand although the players had met all COVID-related protocols.
"This is possible -- it does take a few days after exposure before the disease develops. Pre-departure testing does help in identifying people who have current infection but it will not detect people who have very recently been exposed to the virus," ESPNcricinfo quoted McEnlay as saying.
"They were required to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and be symptom-free before departing for New Zealand. Of the 54 team members that arrived, one team member was symptomatic on arrival in Auckland and was taken to the managed quarantine hotel in Auckland (Jet Park) to be tested," she further said.
"The test returned negative. The remaining 53 members flew to Christchurch and to the managed isolation facility at the Chateau on the Park," McEnlay added.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, the Pakistan contingent flew to New Zealand from Lahore via Dubai, where they changed planes. The plane stopped at Kuala Lumpur for refuelling though the squad stayed on-board. After landing in Auckland, they then boarded a chartered flight to Christchurch.
Pakistan and New Zealand are slated to square off in three T20Is and two Tests. Pakistan is slated to play three T20Is on December 18, 20, and 22, and the ICC World Test Championship fixtures will be held in Mount Maunganui and Christchurch on December 26-30 and January 3-7, respectively.