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MUMBAI: “Quarantine since few days before we get going for ipl commentary but who will mind this view ?? #beautiful #Quarantine,” tweeted former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan on Tuesday evening. Pathan was quarantining in his room in a five-star hotel in the city. After a couple of weeks of quarantining, Pathan would report to the Star Sports studio at the Urmi Industrial Estate in Lower Parel, where he would do commentary for IPL-13 (which would be played in the UAE) from September 19.

The entire crew involved with telecast of the IPL, which will work out of Mumbai, will be in a bio-bubble, just like their counterparts in UAE. That includes plenty of commentators who will arrive in the city from around the world, and practically the entire staff at the Star Sports office here.
The man responsible for keeping this bio bubble intact is Dr Pratitt Samdhani, an internal physician at Breach Candy Hospital. The noted doctor’s list of celebrity clients includes Bollywood icons Shah Rukh Khan and Lata Mangeshkar — he was credited for saving her life when she was admitted to Breach Candy at the age of 90 with breathing difficulties.
Samdhani is a medical consultant with Disney-Hotstar.
So, what exactly is a bio-bubble? Describing this concept, Samdhani tells TOI: “This is a new concept which has come into evolution due to Covid-19. It’s a secured, imaginary bubble, like a balloon, not a physical one. In it, a number of people come to stay together, without having any kind of physical interaction with people who’re outside it. It’s a safely prepared bubble to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infections and thereby, also decreasing the risk of other infectious diseases which can spread.”

Elaborating on the bio-bubble that he plans to create for the Star Sports office in Mumbai during the forthcoming IPL, he added: “The bio-bubble here will include all the technical, broadcasting, content people being put up in a secure environment. Like in the UAE, food, transportation, movement has been restricted. Everyone will undergo Covid tests to decrease the chance of catching and transmitting infection, and then they will be placed in quarantine facility. They will then be brought into the place of action, and taken back. This will be their home for the next two months,” he explains.
Many commentators are supposed to fly in from foreign countries to Mumbai to commentate from here for the IPL.
“Many people from across the globe will be flying in for an event like this. Adequate precautions will be taken. Multiple Covid tests will be done on them, they will be kept in quarantine/isolation for two weeks before they enter the bubble. Once they are in the bubble, they won’t be allowed to leave it whatsoever, unless there’s an emergency,” he says.

Staying away from the family for two months to be in a bio-bubble can be tough for everyone in the star sports crew. How do you plan to help deal with the psychological and emotional problems that people may encounter during such a long period?
“We’re taking complete care in this regard. There’s a medical team for this purpose. The participants know that they’ll be away from home, their families and friends for the required number of days. They’ve been counselled and I’m sure that they’ve got consent from their families to go ahead and do this kind of a job. These are adults, and 60 days is not a very long time for me. We healthcare workers have been away from our families for almost the last six months now. Unlike us, they aren’t fighting for their and their family members’ lives. If they need any kind of help — physical or mental — we’ve kept things in place, so that they can be addressed easily,” he says.
Is there any lesson to be learnt with the way the Chennai Super Kings saw 13 people of their staff, including two players being infected by the virus?

“A bubble’s success depends on the people who make it. It’s a team effort. The team at Star India has been working relentlessly with their parent company (Disney) in the US to make this bubble stringent. The participants must not break the bubble or do anything which is nasty and hazardous for either them or people inside the bubble. If one does something which is not really required or allowed, you’re putting yourself and others at risk,” says Samdhani.
Outlining the major ‘dos’ in the bubble, he says: “‘Wear a mask whenever required. Keep washing the hands. Do not touch your face. Keep a physical distance of one to two metres between two people and always follow the rules of the bubble. Even though you’re in the bubble, it has been told to them that you need to follow these rules.”
Is there any lesson to be learnt with the way the Chennai Super Kings saw 13 people of their staff, including two players being infected by the virus?
“I’m not sure about the reasons why their people tested positive, but I’m sure that they have time and they will have adequate number of players. I’m sure that the game would go on. This is the way that sport will go on until this pandemic is over. Every sporting event will follow this kind of a bubble. This is the best one can do. We hope that the risk of infection is really, really low in this kind of a bubble,” he concluded.



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