Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced all flights from India to Australia have been suspended only hours after cricketer Chris Lynn called on Cricket Australia to arrange charter flights to bring players home at the end of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
India recorded 352,991 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, placing further strain on an already overwhelmed health system and prompting an incredible donation from Aussie star Pat Cummins to help battle the crisis.
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But in a major move on Tuesday, Prime Minister Morrison announced all direct passenger flights from India, and transit points including Doha, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have been suspended until May 15th.
The major announcement follows three Australian cricketers having already cut short their IPL season to head home but a number of the country's top players, including Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Cummins and Lynn remain in India as they fulfil their lucrative contracts.
As many as 30 Australian players, officials and broadcasters will now most likely see out the rest of the IPL competition after all transit points were cut off to Australia amid the virus crisis gripping the country.
With a population of around 1.3 billion people, cricket-mad India has recorded almost 200,000 coronavirus deaths, or nearly 3000 per day as total infections across the country edge closer to the 17 million mark.
The Australia government announced a package of 500 ventilators, one million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks and 100,000 surgical gowns would be delivered to India to help combat the pandemic.
Chris Lynn calls for Cricket Australia help
Lynn says regardless of what happens he'll be staying in India, but he's called on Cricket Australia to help facilitate the return of his compatriots once the competition is over.
"I know there are people worse off than us. But we are going from a really tight bubble and are getting vaccinated next week so hopefully the government will let us get home on a private charter,"Lynn told News Corp.
"We are not asking for shortcuts and we signed up knowing the risks. But it would be great to get home as soon as the event is over."
The regular season ends on May 23, with qualifiers and eliminators to follow before the final on May 30.
Trio of Aussies first to fly home from India
Aussie quick Nathan Coulter-Nile says he also plans to stay with his franchise the Mumbai Indians until the end of the IPL, but understood the decisions of Aussies Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson to fly back home.
“Everyone’s got their own opinions on it and different situations for them,” Coulter-Nile told cricket.com.au from Delhi.
“I was surprised to see AJ go home, and then Zamps and Richo, but when you speak to them, you definitely understand where they’re coming from.
“I spoke to Zamps a little while ago and he made a very compelling argument for going home. But for me, I feel like it’s safer for me to stay in the bubble than try and get home at the moment.
“Especially with all the Australian and New Zealand players in the same boat as me at the moment, I feel like something’s got to give for getting home.
“I’m just going to wait and see how that plays out. Worst comes to worst, we’ll have to quarantine in Dubai for a couple of weeks before we can fly home. But I’m sure it will get sorted.”
Aussie cricket great Simon O’Donnell was less optimistic about the crisis in India and insisted that his countrymen should return home as soon as possible.
“I love India, I adore it, the people are great, but the vastness of the country and the population that inhibits the country - in a way you can see where the difficulties arise with what’s happening there now,” O’Donnell said on SEN.
“A pandemic in India with all due respect is a far different pandemic to what you’d experience in Australia.
“From a family point of view, and that comes first, I think all of the Australians should be getting on a plane and coming home.”
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