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Indians complain about ‘five-star jail’ as UK COVID-19 strain reaches Brisbane

The Indian contingent continued to press for relaxation in the strict biosecurity restrictions for the Brisbane Test, put in place by the Queensland government which is fighting an outbreak scare after a confirmed case of the UK strain of COVID-19.

While the players are allowed to mingle in the communal areas of their hotel during the ongoing third Test in Sydney, sources in the Indian contingent informed that they’ve been “told that we will be confined to our rooms” in Brisbane — the final stop on the Australia tour.

“No one is saying that they won’t follow rules but we need some relaxation. They are saying players won’t even be allowed in team rooms in Brisbane,” a member of the Indian contingent told The Indian Express. “We are told that we will not be allowed to step out of our rooms after we come back from practice. We will have to dine in our rooms. It’s turning out to be a five-star jail.”

While reports of give-and-take between BCCI and Cricket Australia (CA) over the hard quarantine at the end of a two-month tour continued on Thursday, there was no official comment from either board. The BCCI officials too remained tight-lipped when reached for comment.

“At least free access should be provided to players and team management inside the hotel. If players want to go to the pool area, they should be allowed. What if any player has to get a massage or meet a physiotherapist?” the source added. “In Sydney, we can’t go out of the hotel. In Melbourne, we were allowed to go out for a walk or dine in an open restaurant. Brisbane has stricter rules but the Indian team only wants relaxation in a few areas. They want fresh air at the end of the day.”

Outbreak scare

Earlier, Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said that both the teams would be required to operate within a bubble for the Gabba Test.

“My rules are the standard rules I’ve used for sporting teams right from the start and they’ve worked very successfully for us, so that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Young told Fox Sports.

On Thursday, the Queensland health authorities sent aged care homes in parts of greater Brisbane into lockdown after a woman was confirmed to have contracted the highly-infectious UK strain of COVID-19. The woman, a quarantine worker in her 20s, was stationed at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane that housed patients with the mutated strain.

According to Channel 9 News, the woman used public transport and went shopping before she developed symptoms and was tested on Wednesday. She lives in Algester in Brisbane’s south — 20km from The Gabba.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has banned residents from Greater Sydney entering the state until February.

“That’s (bubble concerns) a matter between Indian cricket team and Cricket Australia. But from our point of view, the same measures that have been put in place, where we have successfully hosted a number of events including the AFL, have stood Queensland in good stead,” said Palaszczuk. “In relation to travellers coming from Greater Sydney, you will not be allowed to come to Queensland.”

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