Matches (17)
WPL (2)
PSL 2024 (2)
NZ v AUS (1)
Ranji Trophy (2)
WCL 2 (1)
Nepal Tri-Nation (1)
Sheffield Shield (3)
CWC Play-off (4)
BAN v SL (1)

Sri Lanka worried about new Covid-19 strain, but England tour likely to be on schedule

SLC's medical staff expected to have discussions with their ECB counterparts on Tuesday

The England squad is scheduled to fly to Sri Lanka on a chartered flight on January 2  •  Getty Images

The England squad is scheduled to fly to Sri Lanka on a chartered flight on January 2  •  Getty Images

Sri Lanka Cricket's medical personnel are concerned about the new strain of Covid-19 that is believed to have emerged in England, but those concerns are unlikely to put England's two-Test tour of Sri Lanka, starting January 14, in jeopardy. There may, however, be additional medical protocols for the England team, either before they leave England or after they arrive in Sri Lanka.
SLC's medical staff are expected to have discussions with their counterparts at the ECB on Tuesday afternoon. The focus of those discussions is now likely to be the new strain, and what precautions are being taken to prevent it from being introduced to Sri Lanka via the touring group.
"I don't think we should [look at the new strain as something that jeopardises the tour]," said Dr Daminda Attanayake, the Sri Lankan team's physician, who will take part in that meeting. "Yes, anxiety is high at this stage from everybody. But when you look at the scientific evidence, I don't think we should stop it. We might have to take extra precautions, but we don't need to stop the tour."
At present, England's players and support staff are scheduled to fly to Sri Lanka on a chartered flight, on January 2. Upon landing, the tourists would be required to undergo a three-day isolated quarantine, and if negative PCR tests are returned after those three days, they will be allowed to begin training, and eventually (after six days) train as a group. Only after ten days do the members of the touring party mix with the Sri Lanka players.
Attanayake confirmed that those protocols would be strictly adhered to. "When they come in they will not be in contact with my local people or the local providers, and they will be in quarantine. I don't see why we need to restrict them coming," he said. "[The new strain] will be discussed and we'll have to discuss how they come, and whether they will getting into a biosecure bubble before they come, and before they get into their chartered flight. However, the protocols we follow when they are in the country, we are not going to amend."
The Sri Lanka government has imposed a temporary ban on commercial flights from the UK, from Wednesday. As the England team is expected to take a chartered flight, however, the tour is not believed to be affected.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf