More than 30,000 PCR tests will be conducted on Indian Premier League cricketers and staff during the T20 tournament set to resume in the UAE next week.
Players and officials will be tested once every three days in keeping with stringent safety protocols to detect cases of Covid-19.
When the IPL was held in the UAE last year, players were tested every five days.
This year’s season was suspended in India in May after several players and support crew tested positive during a surge in coronavirus cases.
Cricket authorities decided to move the remaining 31 games to the UAE, where matches will take place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah from September 19 with the final on October 15.
VPS Healthcare nurses and medical staff will stay in the same 14 hotel bio-bubbles as the cricketers.
The company was reappointed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to provide medical care for India’s popular T20 tournament for the second consecutive year.
Two medical teams staffed with doctors, nurses, paramedics and lab technicians will be placed at each stadium during matches.
A 100-strong medical team has been set up to manage Covid-19 and handle sports management during the IPL.
UAE set to renew IPL testing drive
More than 750 hotel employees at 14 hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were tested even before cricketers began arriving last month to adhere to the tournament’s quarantine guidelines.
Testing began on August 13 for two teams, the Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi and the Chennai Super Kings in Dubai.
VPS can conduct 2,000 PCR tests for the IPL daily with results released in six to eight hours.
“We are committed to ensuring a safe environment for the players and other BCCI stakeholders throughout the tournament,” said Dr Shajir Gaffar, chief executive of VPS Healthcare.
“Our team is completely equipped to take care of the medical needs of the IPL participants.
“We are confident that we can provide a great sporting experience for this year’s IPL as well.”
About 80 hospital visits and 156 injuries were treated in VPS hospitals during the 2020 IPL season in the UAE.
UAE becomes cricket capital of the world
Two days after the IPL is completed in the UAE, the T20 World Cup begins in the emirates.
Dr Gaffar said the country was well positioned to be recognised as a trusted sporting destination.
“With the second leg of the IPL and ICC T20 World Cup happening back-to-back, the UAE can solidify its pioneering position as a safe global sporting destination,” he said.
“The UAE has a good strike rate in seamlessly conducting high-profile sports events during the pandemic.
"Even in these challenging times, the country is setting new benchmarks in expertly managing international sporting tournaments through its state-of-the art stadiums, watertight measures and well-trained personnel.”
Apart from monitoring PCR tests for all personnel involved in the IPL, medics will also provide emergency treatment, sports medicine and air ambulance support during the games.
Injured players will be treated at VPS hospitals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, and players requiring an air ambulance will be taken to Burjeel Medical City.
A total of 13 IPL matches will be played in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi. The final will be held in Dubai.