Paine, Labuschagne, others airlifted to NSW after COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia

Besides Test captain Tim Paine and Labuschagne, the list of players relocated include their colleagues Matthew Wade, Travis Head and Cameron Green among others.

Australia's cricket board asserted that the first Test against India in Adelaide from December 17 would go ahead as scheduled.(File photo)   -  Getty Images

Cricket Australia on Tuesday airlifted players, including Test skipper Tim Paine and star batsman Marnus Labuschagne, to New South Wales from Adelaide in an attempt to save the series against India as a coronavirus outbreak in South Australia threatened the upcoming summer.

As Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania closed their borders to South Australia on Monday, the country’s cricket board brought players from Australia’s white-ball, Test match and Australia A squads into Sydney from Adelaide to ensure that the upcoming fixtures of the 300 million dollars season remain unaffected.

“CA has taken a proactive approach and mobilised a number of people across the country over the past 24 hours to shore up our men’s domestic and international schedules,” CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

READ: AUS vs IND, COVID-19 outbreak: Paine in self-isolation, but CA says 1st Test on

“I would like to thank the players and staff for their understanding regarding the changes to their travel schedules and for their commitment to ensuring the summer of cricket is a huge success.”

Besides Paine and Labuschagne, the list of players relocated include their colleagues Matthew Wade, Travis Head and Cameron Green among others.

Despite the spike in COVID cases and developments related to it, CA maintained that the Adelaide Oval will host the first Test of the summer against India from December 17.

Hockley added, “I would also like to thank the various leadership groups across Australian cricket for coming together over the past 48 hours and taking quick, decisive action - made possible by thorough, cross-department contingency planning.

“CA will continue to monitor the situation in South Australia and the resulting border restrictions around the country.

“As ever, we will remain agile in addressing the challenges presented by the pandemic and remain more confident than ever of hosting a safe and successful summer across all formats.”

READ: Australia board hopes to push crowd limits for India tour

Earlier, CA vowed that all possible measures would be explored to ensure that the series goes ahead as planned.

A fresh coronavirus outbreak in Adelaide on Monday had forced Australian players, including Paine, into self-isolation.

A cluster of COVID-19 cases in Adelaide prompted other states like Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory to close their borders with South Australia and impose a 14-day hotel quarantine on all visitors from Adelaide from Monday noon.

India is in Australia for a long tour comprising three ODIs, as many T20 Internationals and four Tests. The tour will begin on November 27 with the first ODI in Sydney while the Test series starts on December 17 with a day-night game in Adelaide.


Australia scrambling to contain COVID-19

Authorities conducted mass tests on Tuesday and about 4,000 people were confined to quarantine in the hope of stifling a new cluster of cases of the novel coronavirus after hopes it had been largely eradicated.

The state of South Australia reimposed social distancing restrictions on Monday after detecting 21 cases of the coronavirus, most of which were acquired locally.

The cases were the first local transmissions of the virus in Australia in nine days.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said testing had identified five new cases in the past 24 hours, while 14 people were suspected to be infected and were awaiting test results.

"We are not out of the woods. We are just at the beginning stages of dealing with this particular very nasty cluster," Marshall told reporters in Adelaide.

Marshall said all cases could be traced back to an Australian who arrived in South Australia from overseas on Nov. 2 and entered mandatory quarantine in a hotel.

Hotel workers are believed to have contacted the virus after touching a surface contaminated with the virus, Marshall said.

Authorities fear the virus could have spread beyond hotel workers and their close contacts, prompting a mandate that confined about 4,000 people to their homes.

"This is a very, very worrying situation. I'm not going to underestimate the concern that I've got about this," said Nicola Spurrier, South Australia's chief public health officer.

Australia has recorded about 27,800 novel coronavirus infections and 906 deaths.

The bulk of the infections were in Victoria state, which forced nearly 5 million people into a stringent lockdown for more than 100 days after a surge in cases.

That outbreak has been contained, with Victoria recording no new cases for the past 16 days.

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