Concerns about India's tour of SA amid new Covid variant's rise

The new COVID-19 variant, which threatens to wreak havoc in South Africa, has led to considerable concerns about India's tour of the Rainbow Nation next month and there could be changes in the quarantine rules for players in the coming days.

India, during a nearly seven-week assignment starting December 17, are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20 Internationals across four venues, Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl, and Cape Town.

The cases are on the rise in the northern part of the country and at least two venues for the Test series -- Johannesburg and Pretoria (near Centurion), could become vulnerable to the spread of the new variant.

''Look, till we get a detailed picture of the ground situation from Cricket South Africa (CSA), we will not be able to tell our next step. As per the current plan, the Indian team is supposed to leave either on December 8 or 9 just after the New Zealand series gets over in Mumbai,'' a senior BCCI official told PTI on Friday.

As of now, the tour is on but it is understood that the BCCI, in the next few days, will be talking to Cricket South Africa on the detection of the new variant -- B.1.1.529 --, which has set alarm bells ringing across the globe.

Scientists believe that the high number of spike mutations could make the new variant more resistant to vaccines, make it more transmissible and cause an increase in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.