England, Australia all clear after negative Covid results

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The third Ashes Test match between Australia and England can go ahead after players got a Covid all-clear (AFP/Hamish Blair)

England and Australia breathed a huge sigh of relief after all players from both teams returned negative Covid-19 results with the third Ashes Test to continue as planned on Tuesday.

Four members of the England party -- two support staff and two family members -- had tested positive for coronavirus just hours before the start of day two in Melbourne on Monday.

The England team and management underwent rapid antigen tests as they were about to leave for the ground, which came back negative.

But they were also required to have PCR tests as a precaution at the end of play.

It left them facing a nervous wait and Cricket Australia sweating on not just the remainder of the Boxing Day Test, but the rest of the Ashes series.

But they got the all-clear, with the Test to resume as scheduled with England in deep trouble at 31 for four in their second innings, still 51 runs behind Australia.

"Players from the Australian and England teams all had PCR Covid-19 tests after play yesterday and all results have come back negative," Cricket Australia said in a statement.

"The families of both sets of players also had PCR tests yesterday and all returned a negative test.

"The England team's support staff and their family members who tested positive after PCR tests yesterday are in isolation."

Driven by the Omicron variant, coronavirus cases are surging in Australia -- particularly in Sydney -- where the fourth Test is scheduled to start on January 5, before the Ashes finale in Hobart.

More than 6,000 cases are being reported daily across New South Wales state, where Sydney is located.

Nevertheless, Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley said on Monday the plan was to press on as scheduled with the Ashes.

"That's absolutely the plan, there's nothing to suggest otherwise. We'll rely on the protocols," he told reporters, before cautioning: "It's a day-by-day proposition."

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