Moeen Ali’s initial 10-day quarantine was extended on Tuesday.© TBEN
England’s Moeen Ali is infected with the new British variant of the coronavirus, Sri Lankan authorities said on Wednesday, after the cricketer tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived in the country 10 days ago. Deputy chief epidemiologist Hemantha Herath told reporters in Colombo that the 33-year-old English all-rounder was the first case of the British strain in Sri Lanka, which is believed to be more transmissible. The health ministry said extra precautions had been ordered to ensure Moeen did not release the new variant in the country – which is fighting an upsurge in infections – but did not specify what they were.
The ban on UK flights and passengers has not been enforced on the England cricket team, which arrived on a chartered plane earlier this month to play two test matches, the first of which will start Thursday.
Moeen’s initial 10-day quarantine was extended on Tuesday after showing mild symptoms and fatigue.
All-rounder Chris Woakes admitted his chances of playing Game 1 remain “pretty slim” after being in close contact with Moeen and isolating himself for seven days.
Moeen and Woakes are part of an 18-man England squad, with seven additional reserve players, in Sri Lanka to resume the series of tests they abandoned in March when the virus was declared a global pandemic.
Moeen, who was England’s highest wicket-taker alongside Jack Leach in their 3-0 series win in Sri Lanka in 2018, is one of three spinners, including Dom Bess and Leach, in the main team.
Sri Lanka has seen an increase in cases of the virus since October, with the total number of infections surpassing 50,000 on Wednesday.
The number of deaths rose to 244 from just 13 in early October.
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