Explained: How the IPL’s bio-bubble burst
The first instance of a confirmed Covid-19 case inside the IPL bio-bubble in 2021 has seen the match between Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Monday (3) postponed, with a rescheduled date yet to be confirmed.
There were strict protocols in place, bubble integrity managers to monitor players and report on any potential breaches and measures in place to counter every adverse situation likely to happen. Yet, the IPL bio-bubble has been burst nevertheless with Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier testing positive from the Kolkata Knight Riders camp.
This was followed by another report that three non-playing members of the Chennai Super Kings contingent – CEO Kasi Viswanathan, bowling coach Laxmipati Balaji and a member of their maintenance staff were found to be Covid-19 positive after the latest round of testing on 2 May. Additionally, five members of Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground-staff have reportedly also tested positive.
How did the IPL bio-bubble burst?
According to confirmed reports, Chakravarthy, the KKR spinner, had left the IPL bio-bubble through the official green channel to carry out a scan and possibly contracted the virus there. When Sandeep Warrier tested positive, the contact tracing went back to Chakravarthy and the whole team went into quarantine. The statement by IPL says that Warrier and Chakravarthy tested positive in the third round of testing in the last four days.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) says that a separate bubble window has to be created for such hospital visits.
Under the IPL’s “green channel” protocols, a player being taken for scans outside the bubble is taken in a vehicle, which is in the bubble with the driver, in PPE kit to the hospital. The treatment will be provided by medical staff who wears PPE kits and masks and the player returns in the same bubble vehicle in PPE. It is not yet clear if these protocols were not followed correctly, if an infection occurred despite these safety measures, or if Chakravarthy contracted the virus at another point.
KKR asked to isolate for a week
It is understood the Knight Riders players and staff have been asked to strictly isolate for seven days in their hotel rooms in Ahmedabad by the IPL.
BCCI clarified in their statement that, effective immediately, KKR will move to a daily testing routine “to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest”.
As per the medical protocol in the IPL guidelines, anyone testing positive within the bubble will need to be isolated for a minimum of 10 days at a pre-designated facility inside the bubble: “During the 10-days isolation, the individual will be tested on day nine and day 10. Two consecutive negative RT-PCR test results taken 24 hours apart, full resolution of symptoms, no fresh symptoms for more than 24 hours and no use of medications for more than 24 hours are mandatory for re-entry into the bio-secure environment. To account for any false positive tests due to historical infections, serology tests and repeat RT-PCR tests may be conducted.”
India is currently reeling with a major second wave of Covid-19, with 3,68,060 new cases reported on 2 May.