England allrounder Moeen Ali is infected with the new UK variant of the coronavirus, the Sri Lankan authorities said Wednesday. The allrounder has been in quarantine since testing positive for Covid-19 on his arrival in the island country 10 days ago. He was set to be released from the quarantine on Wednesday but the period was extended after he showed mild symptoms on Tuesday.
And in the latest turn of events, he has tested positive for the new strain. Deputy Chief Epidemiologist Hemantha Herath told reporters in Colombo that the 33-year-old was Sri Lanka’s first case of the UK strain, which is believed to be more transmissible. The health ministry said extra precautions were ordered to ensure Moeen Ali did not spread the new variant in the country — which is battling an upsurge in infections — but did not elaborate on what they were.
Earlier this month, the Sri Lanka authorities allowed England to arrive in the country on a chartered aircraft for the two-match Test series. The first Test is scheduled to be played from Thursday (January 14). Upon the arrival, Moeen Ali had tested positive and was immediately asked to quarantine. His initial 10-day quarantine was extended on Tuesday after he experienced mild symptoms and fatigue.
The extended quarantine means Moeen Ali is set to miss the two-match series in Sri Lanka. He could return to action next month when England travel to India for a full-fledged series. The Test series will from February 5 will kickstart England’s sojourn in India and Moeen Ali looks likely to return to action by then.
Missing Moeen Ali is a blow to England. He was their joint highest wicket-taker with Jack Leach on their last tour to Sri Lanka in 2018 and looked certain to play in this series. With England also missing Ben Stokes and, in all probability, Chris Woakes for at least the first Test, they are without several of their first-choice allrounders.
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