Australia's PM denies ban on travellers from India is 'racist'

Australia's prime minister has denied that his ban on travellers from India is 'racist' as he backs down on his threat of jail for rule-breakers.

Scott Morrison caused uproar over the weekend with his threat of up to five years in jail and fines of £38,000 for anyone arriving from India.

In addition to around 30 highly-paid cricketers, some 9,000 Australians are believed to be stranded in the Covid-ravaged country, many of whom have Indian heritage.

Mr Morrison sought to quell the backlash this morning as he said it was 'highly unlikely' that Australians who dodged the ban would be jailed. 

'I think the likelihood of any of that occurring is pretty much zero,' the PM said during a breakfast-time media blitz.

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Coronavirus patients at a hospital in Delhi. India set a new record of more than 400,000 daily infections on Saturday as the country's overwhelmed hospitals buckle without oxygen or basic medicines.

Coronavirus patients at a hospital in Delhi. India set a new record of more than 400,000 daily infections on Saturday as the country's overwhelmed hospitals buckle without oxygen or basic medicines.

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

Scott Morrison said the idea 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 buckle without oxygen or basic medicines. 

Australia has aggressively pursued a 'zero Covid' strategy, hoping to wait for the arrival of vaccines before loosening travel restrictions.

While the policy has meant that those in Australia can enjoy freedoms rare throughout most of the world, citizens have been left trapped outside the country since the pandemic started.   

Commentator and former Test cricket star Michael Slater, who is India working at the now-suspended IPL tournament, was among those who pilloried Mr Morrison's decision, saying it was a 'disgrace'.

'Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this,' he tweeted. 'If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get 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 are coaching. 

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