Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton stated that he is "surprised" to be in Australia, days before the start of the new Formula One season. Hamilton's remarks came at a press conference on Thursday amidst the global coronavirus outbreak.
Hamilton is one of the first drivers to speak up on the decision, or the lack of, to go ahead with the season's inaugural race. The Brit said, "I am very, very surprised we are here,” he said. “I think it’s great that we can have races, but for me it’s shocking that we’re all sitting in this room. There are so many fans here already today. It seems like the rest of the world is reacting, probably a bit late, but already this morning we have seen [Donald] Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the United States. The NBA is being suspended and F1 continues to go on.”
In other developments, one member of McLaren’s team and four crew members of Haas have been tested for the coronavirus and placed in isolation.
The FIA has already announced that the Chinese Grand Prix will be cancelled because of the virus and the Bahrain Grand Prix will be held behind closed doors.
Hamilton's remarks come a few hours after NBA suspended its season “until further notice" after a Utah Jazz player tested positive on Wednesday for the coronavirus. The move that came only hours after the majority of the league's owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.
"The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
A short while before Hamilton's remarks, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) announced that at least one person who attended the ICC Women's T20 World Cup finals on March 8 has been tested positive for coronavirus.
Globally, around 4,600 people have died due to Coronavirus, with the epicentre being in China. The virus has infected around 1,26,000 people globally and has now spread to North America, South America, Europe, New Zealand, and more than 100 other countries.
World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday, declared the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak as a pandemic. The announcement takes place months after the virus spread from China's Wuhan. Globally, over 1,26,000 cases have been reported with the virus claiming over 4,600 lives.