England have been cleared to train for the first time since arriving in Sri Lanka after a fresh round of testing for Covid-19 yielded no further positive cases.
Moeen Ali is quarantining for 10 days in a separate wing of the touring team’s hotel and now displaying mild symptoms after he was found to have the virus upon arrival in Hambantota.
Chris Woakes was identified as a close contact of the off-spinning all-rounder and will continue to self-isolate despite the fast bowler being among a round of blanket negatives across players and staff – discounting Moeen.
The screening consisted of four swabs, two for a quick turnaround lateral flow test and another two for a more sophisticated PCR, which take longer to process but give more reliable results.
“All PCR tests from yesterday are negative, except for Moeen Ali, and we can start controlled training this afternoon,” an England and Wales Cricket Board spokesperson said on Wednesday morning.
“Close contact Chris Woakes tested negative but will continue to isolate in his room.”
The team will on Thursday be tested for a third time since arriving into the country, when they were screened and disinfected with spray guns on Sunday before being confined to individual rooms at the Shangri-La Hotel.
But the latest clean bill of health not only comes as a welcome relief but means the team can start preparations in earnest for a two-match Test series which gets under way in Galle on January 14.
Moeen’s quarantine period does not end until the day before so he will almost certainly miss the series opener.
The 33-year-old was scheduled to stay in Galle but the accommodation had building work on-site and the alternative option was not up to standard as per the protocols, leading to his return to Hambantota on Tuesday evening.