Australian Prime Minister denies ban on travelers from India is ‘racist’

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Australia’s prime minister has denied that his ban on travelers from India is ‘racist’, while looking back on his threat of jail time for rule breakers.

Scott Morrison caused a stir this weekend with his threat of up to five years in prison and fines of £ 38,000 for anyone arriving from India.

In addition to about 30 well-paid cricketers, about 9,000 Australians are believed to be stranded in the Covid-devastated country, many of whom are of Indian descent.

Morrison tried to quell the resistance this morning, saying it was “highly unlikely” that Australians who dodged the ban would be jailed.

“I think the chances of that happening are almost nil,” the prime minister said during a media blitz over breakfast.

Coronavirus patients in a hospital in Delhi. India set a new record of more than 400,000 daily infections on Saturday as the country’s overwhelmed hospitals succumb to it without oxygen or basic drugs.

Scott Morrison said the idea that he had blood on his hands was

Scott Morrison said the idea that he had blood on his hands was “absurd.”

It comes after India set a new record of more than 400,000 daily infections on Saturday as the country’s overwhelmed hospitals run out of oxygen or basic drugs.

Australia has aggressively pursued a ‘zero Covid’ strategy, hoping to wait for the arrival of vaccines before travel restrictions are relaxed.

While the policy has allowed people in Australia to enjoy freedoms that are rare in most of the world, citizens have been trapped outside the country since the start of the pandemic.

Commentator and former Test cricket star Michael Slater, who works in India on the now-suspended IPL tournament, was among those who pilloried Morrison’s decision, saying it was a ‘shame’.

‘Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like that, ” he tweeted. “If our government took care of the safety of Aussies, they’d let us come home.”

Among the star players still in the country are Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and David Warner, while big names like Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich and David Hussey coach.

But Mr. Morrison said the idea that he had blood on his hands was “absurd.”

“The money goes here when it comes to these decisions, and I’m going to make decisions that I think will protect Australia from a third wave,” he said.

“I’m working to get them home safely,” he added, noting that repatriation flights could begin shortly after May 15.

In cities all over India, funeral pyres burned all day long to deal with the dead (photo: a crematorium in Bengaluru)

In cities all over India, funeral pyres burned all day long to deal with the dead (photo: a crematorium in Bengaluru)

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) accompany patients in a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in Delhi on Saturday

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) accompany patients in a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in Delhi on Saturday

The decision went into effect Monday and was denounced by rights groups and some of Morrison’s most prominent allies, including Sky News commentator Andrew Bolt, who said it “ stinks of racism. ”

Australia largely prevented the worst pandemic through some of the strictest border controls in the world.

There is a general ban on travel to and from the country unless an exemption has been obtained.

Non-residents are usually not allowed to enter, and anyone entering the country must complete a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

Steve Smith is pictured with wife Dani Willis.  Smith was bought at the February auction for $ 390,000 to represent the capital cities of Delhi

David Warner, pictured right with wife Candice, is earning £ 1.3 million

Steve Smith is pictured with wife Dani Willis. Smith was bought for $ 390,000 at the February auction to represent the capital cities of Delhi. David Warner, pictured right with wife Candice, is earning £ 1.3 million. The men are among about 30 Australians who have played in the IPL and remain in India

David Warner and New Zealand's Kane Williamson are seen in full PPE during the IPL while traveling on a plane.  Williamson managed to flee India this week through a loophole that made travel via Doha possible.  That loophole has now been closed, the prime minister said last week

David Warner and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson are seen in full PPE during the IPL while traveling on a plane. Williamson managed to flee India this week through a loophole that allowed travel via Doha. That loophole has now been closed, the prime minister said last week

But that system has come under increasing pressure as the virus has jumped out of quarantine facilities and triggered a series of outbreaks in the largely unvaccinated community.

The Conservative Prime Minister is running for re-election in the next 12 months and had hoped that Australia’s relatively successful handling of the pandemic would propel him to victory.

But the travel ban in India and the rollout of icy vaccines have sparked criticism.

Australia has administered 2.2 million doses of vaccine to a population of 25 million people, each requiring two doses to be fully immunized.

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