Moeen tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival nine days ago and England had hoped he could rejoin the squad tomorrow. But the all-rounder is still showing symptoms — tiredness — and was the only member of the touring party not tested today (the fourth round of testing since arriving in the country). He looks set to remain in quarantine for a couple more days at least.
The Sri Lankan authorities are understandably being very wary with the England squad, given the effective management of the virus in the country.
Moeen was already ruled out of the First Test, which begins on Thursday, but now appears highly unlikely to be involved in the second, which is due to begin on January 22.
Moeen was due to return to Test cricket for the first time since August 2019 in Sri Lanka, where he was a key part of the team which won 3-0 in November 2018.
Dom Bess and Jack Leach are set to bowl spin, but England must still decide the make-up of their seam attack.
England have spoken plenty about the need to rotate their fast bowlers on their six-Test tour of the subcontinent, which begins an epic spell of Test cricket that will see them play 18 matches in the next 12 months.
Jonny Bairstow is back, while Dan Lawrence, the 23-year-old Essex batsman, is set to make his debut from No5 in a batting order missing Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Rory Burns.
All three — like Moeen — are due to return for the series against India next month.