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COVID forces India-England T20 cricket matches in empty stadium | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Three remaining Twenty20 games to be played behind closed doors because of the rise in cases, BCCI says.

England’s remaining three Twenty20 (T20) international matches against India will be played behind closed doors because of a surge in coronavirus cases, according to authorities.

In a statement on Monday, India’s cricket board said the 110,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad – the main city in Gujarat state – would be empty for the games on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The series is so far level 1-1.

“The decision was arrived at following detailed discussions with the state and local health authorities,” the statement by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said.

“The BCCI will continue to comply with all the regulations put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and will always put the health and safety of its fans and stakeholders at the top.”

An England spokesman expressed confidence that the measure would not have an impact on the team.

“Aside from meaning there will be considerably less noise in the stadium it doesn’t materially affect us,” he said.

“We remain in our bubble and even when crowds were in attendance we never came into contact with any of them, and the ball was sanitised whenever it was hit into the stands.”

The initial matches were attended by tens of thousands of people sitting or standing shoulder-to-shoulder, with few wearing masks, leading to widespread criticism on social media.

India widens curbs

India reported 24,492 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the sixth straight day of more than 20,000 infections as curbs to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge.

Total cases have now risen to 11.41 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil. Deaths increased by 131 to 158,856 in the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

The government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out mutations of the virus as a factor, unlike in the West.

India’s worst-affected state, Maharashtra, on Monday ordered cinemas, hotels and restaurants to limit guests to half capacity until the end of the month. Weddings and other social events will also have limited attendance.

Maharashtra has also locked down some districts.

India has embarked on a mass vaccination campaign, but experts have blamed a slackening of social distancing and mask-wearing for the increase in infections.

The country has vaccinated nearly 26 million people since beginning its inoculation campaign in mid-January and aims to vaccinate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people by August.


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