Indian badminton stars Saina Nehwal and H S Prannoy, who were cleared to compete at ongoing ongoing Yonex Thailand Open in Bangkok late on Tuesday, had a harrowing time after conflicting COVID-19 reports came out of their earlier samples.
It was a chaotic day and the entire procedure put us under severe mental stress, the duo told Malayala Manorama over the phone from Thailand.
Both Saina and Prannoy had to spend over 14 hours in a hospital in Bangkok for testing procedures and other mandatory requirements. Olympic medallist Saina was forced out following a positive test, while Prannoy’s participation hung in the balance after his sample came out negative following a positive result. Saina and her husband Parupalli Kashyap, a close contact and also a participant in the tournament, had to withdraw from their first-round games on Tuesday, giving their opponents a walkover.
“It was one of the hardest days of my life. I am feeling relieved now,” said Saina.
Upon resting, Prannoy returned negative, while Saina was found to be positive again. However, after diagnosis from the Diagnosis and Investigation Committee of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, she was cleared after her antibody IgG turned positive. A positive antibody test means a person has been infected with the COVID-19 virus at some point in the past, but is not currently infected.
Saina, Prannoy, Kashyap along with R M V Gurusaidutt and Pranaav Chopra had tested positive last month and had served the mandatory quarantine period.
"It was terrible. I was anxious and tensed throughout the day and felt like I was going to faint," said Prannoy.
"We had to undergo three back-to-back COVID-19 tests after landing in Bangkok. All of us were asymptomatic and none of us had come in contact with those who were diagnosed with the disease. A we had been strictly following all the safety precautions, we were not worried about the test result. That is why my husband and I decided to share the photo of us taking the COVID-19 test on social media. I was shocked when the test came back positive on Tuesday morning," Saina said.
Saina could return to her hotel room around 8 pm (local time) after completing all the formalities. Kashyap was self-quarantining there for the entire day. Hours later, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) confirmed that both of them were cleared to participate in the tournament. To their relief, matches were rescheduled and no walkover was given.
Saina was scheduled to play Kisona Selvaduray of Malaysia, while Kashyap was supposed to face Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue in the first round on Tuesday. Prannoy will be playing his first match on Wednesday, taking on Malaysia’s eighth seed Lee Zii Jia.
Srikanth alleges poor treatment
Meanwhile, former world No.1 Kidambi Srikanth alleged poor treatment from the Thai health officials and shared photographs of his bleeding nose after he was tested for the fourth time.
“We take care of ourselves for the match not to come and shed blood for THIS . However, I gave 4 tests after I have arrived and I can’t say any of them have been pleasant. Unacceptable,” he tweeted.
BWF officials said Srikanth was being attended to by a doctor and they were awaiting a medical explanation.
The 27-year-old is scheduled to open his campaign on Wednesday against fellow Indian Sourabh Verma.