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The Ashes: Aussies heave sigh of relief after Test squad returns negative COVID tests

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Australia are hopeful Travis Head will be the only enforced omission for the SCG Test after the rest of the squad tested negative for COVID-19.

Head is isolating in Melbourne after contracting the virus, meaning he will miss the fourth Ashes Test that begins on Wednesday.

There were concerns teammates and support staff would become part of an outbreak, prompting selectors to add cover players Mitch Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis to an enlarged squad.

Every person in Australia’s touring party, including family members, was tested on Friday.

Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed there are no new COVID-19 cases among players and support staff.

The test result of one family member is yet to be received, with CA unsure when it will be returned.

CA was notably concerned about opener Marcus Harris, who dined with Head this week as Australia celebrated taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series against England.

Harris did not board Friday’s charter flight, remaining in Melbourne as a precautionary measure.

CA is still mulling the best way for Harris, Marsh, Maddinson and Inglis to travel from Melbourne to Sydney for the fourth Test.

Lyon and Starc hit the road

Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon drove from Victoria to NSW and it’s possible the quartet may also hit the road.

A charter flight would be a costly exercise for four squad members, the majority of which are likely to be running drinks in Sydney.

CA’s health experts have shielded Australian and English players from commercial airlines in an effort to reduce the risk of any of them catching the coronavirus.

Players from both squads are being tested daily. But, at this stage, CA have opted against dialling up biosecurity restrictions.

It means the enlarged squad, which will feature a total of 19 players once Harris and the newcomers link up with teammates, will train together rather than in smaller groups.

Players and support staff are barred from dining indoors but free to leave their hotels provided they observe social distancing.

The situation is in sharp contrast to a year ago, when both squads spent the second half of the Australia-India series in hotel lockdown.

Some three support staff and four family members in England’s travelling group contracted COVID-19 in Melbourne, while under-pressure coach Chris Silverwood did not make the trip north because he is isolating as a close contact.

Match referee David Boon is also isolating after testing positive, meaning NSW-based Steve Bernard will be in charge of the SCG Test.

-AAP

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