The first positive results started surfacing in the England setup while the Boxing Day Test unfolded but this caused only minor disruption to the start of play on day two as the spread of the virus appeared to have been contained to just family and coaching staff.
However, as Head is the first player to test positive, it is more likely that the virus has now also spread to other players. It may take some days to find out the full extent of the spread, however, and whether the fourth Test can still continue as planned.
In a statement, Cricket Australia confirmed that Head is asymptomatic but that he will remain in Melbourne and isolate with his partner for seven days in line with Victorian Government health requirements. He will therefore be unavailable for selection for the upcoming Test.
According to the governing body, the remainder of the Australian squad, their families and the support staff had PCR and RAT tests on Friday morning.
As a precautionary measure, the all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who was player of the match in the recent Twenty20 World Cup Final, and top-order batters Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been called into the Australian squad as replacements.
A Cricket Australia spokesperson said: “As part of our testing procedures, we are PCR testing players, their families and our support staff daily. Unfortunately, Travis returned a positive Covid-19 result earlier today. Thankfully, he is asymptomatic at this stage. We anticipate that he will be available to play in the fifth Vodafone men’s Ashes Test in Hobart.
“We are grateful to our exceptional medical staff for all the work they have done throughout this series and we will continue to work with and support the players, their families and staff from both teams.”