Explained: What is a Bio-bubble?
A bio-bubble is an invisible shield that is used to host sporting events during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In simple words, it is a safe and secure environment that can only be accessed by a certain set of people who have tested negative for COVID-19 to minimise the risk of transmission of the coronavirus from one person to another during the course of the event. The bio-bubbles were initiated for sporting events such as India's tour of Australia, IPL, US Open and so on.
Where is a bio-secure environment created?
The bio-secure environment can be parts of a hotel or stadium and the players are allowed to access only those parts to prevent any physical interaction with the outside world. For instance, at the US Open, the players could only travel from the hotel to the stadium and vice-versa.
It is to be noted that different zones are created for players, match officials, staff members, hotel staff, security personnel and medical teams. All of them must remain in their allotted zones. In case of breach of bio-bubble, the person will be isolated and would need to test negative twice before entering the bubble again.
How does a bio-secure bubble work?
The bio-secure bubble aims at keeping the teams isolated from the outside world to minimise the risk of COVID-19 at the venue. Additionally, the players are not allowed to meet their families, friends, and visitors during the course of the tournament and neither they are allowed to leave the bio-bubble to pay a visit to their families or friends.
How a player enters bio-bubble?
To enter a bio-bubble, a player needs to clear the RT-PCR test before leaving his home country. Upon arrival at the destination, he will be tested again for COVID-19 and has to confine in a room until the results are declared.
During the IPL last year, each player was required to wear a Bluetooth band at all times. The band would beep if a person comes in close proximity to the other person.
At the US Open, the accreditation card had an RFID code for contact tracing in case someone tests positive for COVID-19.
First International Cricket Tournament in Bio-bubble
In July 2020, the West Indies tour of England was the first International cricket tournament that was played in the bio-bubble. During the course of the series, no one tested positive for COVID-19. It is to be noted that if someone left the bio-bubble during the tournament, he had to isolate for 5 days and need to pass two COVID-19 tests before returning to the bio-secure environment. The first case of the bio-bubble breach was highlighted when Jofra Archer (England Bowler) was dropped from the second Test due to the breach of bio-security protocols.
Upcoming IPL 2021
The 2021 Indian Premier League or IPL 14 is scheduled to be played between 9 April to 30 May 2021 across six different venues in India- Chennai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata. The 14th season of the IPL will be played inside a bio-bubble. The teams will play only at neutral venues to negate the home advantage due to limited venues in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, each team will only play at four venues, travelling only thrice in the process. Each venue across the country will have its own bio-secure environment and the players will have to undergo a seven-day quarantine period to join the bio-secure bubbles.
As per several media reports, 14 members in IPL Broadcast bio-bubble have tested positive for COVID-19, which may have an impact on the upcoming IPL 2021 as only three days are left for the tournament. With Mumbai becoming a hotbed for COVID-19 cases in the country, several stakeholders are in an uncomfortable position but the BCCI seems unmoved and will continue with Mumbai as a venue for the first phase of the IPL. As per BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, the IPL matches will be held as planned.