South Africa, England ODI series to go ahead

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - First One Day International - South Africa v England - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - December 4, 2020 General view of the scoreboard which says the match has been postponed REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The One-Day International series between South Africa and England will start in Paarl on Sunday after the host's squad returned a full set of negative results in their latest round of coronavirus testing, officials have confirmed.

The series due to start on Friday had been thrown into doubt after a South African player tested positive in the team's bio-secure hotel environment during mandatory testing, with the first match at Newlands postponed an hour before its start.

England expressed concern over the strength of the bio-secure environment after the positive result, while a South African team investigation has not yet shown how the unnamed player caught the virus.

"The entire Proteas team has returned negative results from the COVID-19 tests that were conducted yesterday evening in Cape Town ahead of the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series," Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed in a statement.

The latest positive test was the third for South Africa either before or during the six-match white-ball tour by England that is supplying much-needed revenue for the embattled CSA.

Team doctor Shuaib Manjra admitted they were at a loss to explain how the player contracted the virus in the bio-secure hotel that is shared by South Africa and England.

"We have spoken to the player, looked at security cameras and other information, and we have not been able to date to identify where that source was. But clearly it is cause for concern,” Manjra said in a statement on Friday.

He denied any player had left the team hotel without authorisation.

"I can categorically state that no player is able to leave the hotel environment. The security will not allow the player to leave, unless he is doing so in an assigned, official vehicle."

After Sunday’s opening match in Paarl, there will be further games at Newlands in Cape Town on Monday and Wednesday.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jane Wardell)

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