A visiting Pakistani cricket team has helped the New Zealand government debunk the Islamic nation’s coronavirus myth. As many as eight members of the Pakistani cricket team tested positive for the deadly virus in Christchurch on Wednesday.
The entire team had tested negative back home, following which the cricketers were allowed to travel abroad.
In the past, Pakistan has failed to contain several infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, and hepatitis as successive governments neglected the country’s healthcare sector.
After the outbreak of Covid-19, many feared that the densely populated country would not be able to control the virus at a time when major advanced countries fell short of expectations.
However, experts were left baffled after an initial surge in infections, the number of cases plummeted as the year went by, after which even the WHO commended Pakistan’s efforts in controlling the virus.
<358> Pakistan included among 7 countries by WHO Director General – countries that world can learn from about how to fight future pandemics. Great honor for the people of Pakistan. Alhamdolilah 🙏. https://t.co/33rb8avZA6
— Zafar Mirza (@zfrmrza) September 10, 2020
However, critics across the world have raised doubts over Pakistan’s testing claims.
Negative Results Turned Positive
Before leaving for New Zealand, the Pakistani team had undergone four rounds of test with only those who tested negative allowed to board the flight. Batsman Fakhar Zaman, who developed Covid-like symptoms, did not travel despite his results showing negative.
However, seven members of the total 53 had tested positive for the virus on their arrival on November 24. They included first-teamers Sarfaraz Ahmed, Rohail Nazir, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Abid Ali, and Danish Aziz and assistant coach Shahid Aslam.
On Wednesday, however, it was announced that an additional individual belonging to the Pakistani team had tested positive for the virus during a test at a managed isolation facility in Christchurch.
The news was confirmed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health in its daily bulletin on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is one new case of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation in New Zealand today. There are no new community cases,” the ministry said.
“This person is a member of Pakistan cricket squad and was one of the three cases reported as under investigation yesterday. They have now been confirmed to have an active COVID-19 infection. The two other cases remain under investigation.”
Pakistan Cricket Team Breached Covid Norms
Recently, the team was stripped of its exemption to practice after some of the players breached Covid-19 protocols at the Christchurch Hotel where they are staying.
According to the Indian Express, New Zealand which has virtually no case of local transmission was left unimpressed by the Pakistani cricketers’ antics and the entire team was issued a final warning ahead of their three Twenty20 internationals from December 18.
“The New Zealand authorities have taken a “very dim view of it”, according to Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the country’s director-general of health. They said that the Pakistani visitors indulged in mixing in hallways, sharing food, and not wearing masks at all times – a clear breach of the isolation protocols.
“The squad’s training privileges were also revoked, pending an assessment by health officials. The host government gave them a ‘final warning’ that any more breaches will result in the tour getting canceled.”
Poor Testing Record
One of the key reasons behind Pakistan reporting lower cases for the virus has been its rate of testing, which is considered to be lower than its next-door neighbor, India.
Samiya Latied, wrote in The Times of India, saying, “Compared to neighboring India, Pakistan falls way behind when it comes to testing its population. The graph shows that while India has hit a record high of over 1 million tests per day, Pakistan has been averaging around 20,000+ daily tests since June.”
“Further, according to data from worldometers.info, India has tested over 4.6 crore people for Covid-19 so far with an average of 33,767 tests per million population while Pakistan has tested just over 27 lakh people with an average of 12,216 tests per million population,” Latied said.
India has tested nearly 3.3% of its population, and Pakistan has done just over 1.2%.
Besides, Pakistan has reported a sharp rise in daily cases of the virus since last week, with the country recording 3,306 infections on November 25, the highest single-day increase in almost three months.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has put the blame on the opposition alliance, which staged protests demanding Khan’s resignation. He accused the opposition of “not caring for the lives and safety of the people” and has urged the nation to embrace a new “smart lockdown”.
So, when we did smart lockdown to save our poor from becoming destitute & save economy from total collapse, these "leaders" opposed & demanded complete lockdown. Now, with new spike, when we again need smart lockdown, they want jalsas not caring for the lives & safety of people
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 29, 2020
However, the opposition has refused to call off its protests despite the rise in infections with the latest one occurring in Multan, the country’s most populous Punjab province.
“Imran Khan’s government is a bigger threat to Pakistan and its economy than the virus,” said top opposition leader Fazl ur Rehman, while hinting that the protests will continue.