THE Ashes was hit by a double Covid outbreak with the start of day two of the Third Test delayed.
A family member of an England player tested positive and there was also a positive test among staff of the Channel 7 TV network in Australia covering the match.
Joe Root and his players stayed at the team hotel until further tests were conducted.
But England were given the all-clear to set off for the ground 45 minutes before the scheduled start.
An England statement said: “The England team and management are waited at the team hotel for results of further Covid tests following a positive test in the team’s family group.
"But now we have been cleared to leave for the ground."
Cricket Australia later claimed that FOUR members of England's group had in fact tested positive.
A statement said: "Cricket Australia has been informed that two members of the England team’s support staff and two of their family members have returned a positive Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test. The affected individuals are currently isolating.
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"The entire playing group and all other support staff have undertaken Rapid Antigen Tests and all have tested negative."
England endured a miserable opening day. They were bowled out for just 185 and the Aussies replied with 61-1.
The series has been on a knife edge with Aussie skipper Pat Cummins missing the Second Test in Adelaide because he was deemed a close contact after sitting near somebody who tested positive in a restaurant.
There were also positive Covid tests in the broadcasting area during the Second Test.
Some members of the BBC radio team – including former England fast bowler Steven Finn – are still in quarantine in Adelaide.
This is the first positive test among the England team group.
Channel 7, for whom Lord Botham is working, are re-jigging their line-up of commentators and presenters.
They have co-opted ex-England skipper Mike Atherton onto their team as an emergency pundit.
Their head of sport Lewis Martin said: “The Seven Network confirms it is responding after a member of staff working on the Ashes broadcast at the MCG tested positive to Covid-19 on Sunday night.
“The staff member was asymptomatic at time of testing and has been in self-isolation since the moment the positive result was returned.
“Seven is activating its Covid measures to ensure the health and safety of all staff, as well as the broader community, and is working in line with all relevant guidelines and regulations. We are working closely with the MCG operational team and Cricket Australia.
“We have Covid response scenarios in place to ensure the impact on Seven’s broadcast is limited.
“There have been a number of changes to today’s production schedule, which will be led by Alistair Nicholson, Andy Maher and Jason Richardson with expert comments from Lisa Sthalekar, Brad Hodge, Callum Ferguson, Michael Atherton and Dirk Nannes.
“Seven’s number one priority is the health, safety and welfare of all staff and the community."
Play started at 12 midnight UK time – 30 minutes late – but two members of England’s coaching staff and two squad players not involved in the match remained at the team hotel.
They were deemed close contacts of the positive case in England’s group but were not showing any symptoms.
Both teams and their families were due to undergo PCR tests after the second day’s play. Any further positive results would throw the future of the match into doubt.
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