Mitchell Marsh
Mitchell Marsh of the Delhi Capitals plays against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 10, 2022. Marsh tested positive for COVID-19 on April 18, and is expected to be out of action for at least a week. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

COVID-19 has returned to haunt the Indian Premier League. Fortunately, there may not be any significant disruption to the T20 cricket tournament schedule this season, unlike the last the two years when IPL relocated the games to the UAE.

There has already been a minor change: Wednesday’s game between the Delhi Capitals and the Punjab Kings has been moved from Pune to Mumbai. Although six members of the Delhi contingent, including two players, have contracted COVID, all indications are that the match will go ahead.

How did the virus sneak into Delhi camp?

Delhi had played the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday after physiotherapist Patrick Farhart tested positive. That means newer cases are unlikely to interrupt Season 15.

COVID is no longer the monster it was in the past two years. Vaccinations and infections have allowed much of the world to return to normality. The coronavirus threat lingers, so every effort has to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. But it should be allowed to put our lives on hold.

We have learnt to live the virus. The safety protocols continue to be effective, while therapy and quarantine norms have been updated to deal with the disease without fuss. People around us still fall ill from COVID; they isolate themselves, recover and return to work. COVID remains a pandemic, but it no longer has the aura of dread.

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Dreaded it may not be, but the virus has to be treated with abundant caution since new variants keep coming. Safeguards remain in place, and all IPL squads are in biobubbles with stringent rules.

If there are biobubbles, how did the virus sneak into the Delhi camp? The biobubbles are secure, but the easing of COVID restrictions has increased access to public areas. Teams are isolated on a floor in hotels, which house other guests as well. Since players and support staff are allowed to use public spaces like the swimming pool, there’s a good chance of catching the virus. That would have been the case with the Delhi Capitals.

All others in the Delhi squad are reported to have tested negative on Tuesday, so the match is likely today. This is a wake-up call for the Indian cricket board to ramp up the testing and secure the biobubbles further. They can’t afford this season also to be disrupted by the virus.

Two years of the pandemic have worn us out, and we managed to ride the turbulence out. With adequate precautions, we can get on with life. Sport too. It’s just that we have to be careful. I hope that the virus attack on IPL 15 is just a blip.