English all-rounder Moeen Ali has been diagnosed with the new UK variant of coronavirus, said Sri Lankan health authorities on Wednesday. The all-rounder has been in isolation since testing positive for COVID-19 on his arrival in Sri Lanka 10 days ago.
Moeen Ali was set to be released from isolation on Wednesday but the period was extended after the all-rounder showed mild symptoms and fatigue on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Epidemiologist, Hemantha Herath, told reporters in Colombo that Moeen Ali was Sri Lanka’s first case of the UK strain, which is believed to be highly 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.
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Earlier this month Sri Lankan authorities banned all the fights from Britain but the ban was not implemented on the England cricket team as they arrived in the country on a chartered aircraft for the two-match Test series.
After the quarantine period being extended Moeen Ali has been ruled out of the two-match Test series in Sri Lanka. Moeen Ali’s absence will leave a deep hole in England’s lineup as the 33-year-old was their joint-highest wicket-taker with Jack Leach on their last tour to Sri Lanka in 2018.
Moeen Ali could return to action next month when England will travel to India for a full-fledged series. The Test series will kick start on February 5.
Prior to Moeen Ali all-rounder Chris Woakes in, all probability, can miss the first test as he admitted that chances of him playing the first game remain “quite slim” after being in close contact with Moeen and isolating for seven days.
The first Test between Sri Lanka and England is underway at Galle, with Sri Lanka opting to bat against visitors England.