England cricket team hotel hit by coronavirus cases

Galle (Agencies): The England cricket team were hit by a new coronavirus scare Friday as two staff members tested positive and were hospitalised, officials said. Epidemiologist Venura Singarachchi told AFP the two kitchen staff at the Light House hotel in the Sri Lankan city of Galle were tested after they showed symptoms.

England are playing two Tests against Sri Lanka in Galle. Despite strict efforts to enforce a bio-secure bubble, they have already seen all-rounder Moeen Ali test positive since arriving in the South Asian nation.

Singarachchi said the two hotel staff had been sent to a treatment centre. “We are now trying to trace their contacts,” he added.

The England cricket board said they were not worried about the infections. “Our protocols have been excellent and we continue to be vigilant,” spokesman Danny Reuben told AFP. He said players respected social distancing, wore masks in indoor settings at the hotel and where possible dined outdoors.

Reuben said Moeen was still isolating at a different hotel in Galle and would return to the team as soon as it was safe. England arrived in Sri Lanka on January 3 and spent a week in isolation in the southern town of Hambantota before travelling to Galle.

They were allowed into the country despite a ban on flights from Britain in an effort to keep out a new, more contagious coronavirus variant. Sri Lanka has seen a surge in virus cases since October, with the total number of infections passing 50,000 on Wednesday and deaths rising to over 250 from just 13 in October.