Criticism of the government’s decision to make returning to Australia from India illegal has forced the Prime Minister to defend against the backlash.

Until at least May 15, a travel ban will be enforced by jail time and heavy fines under the Biosecurity Act.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Ray Hadley the arrangement is temporary, to “strengthen” quarantine and testing arrangements, and repatriation flights will begin again as soon as possible.

He denied the decision is a racist one, pointed out no one has been jailed under the Biosecurity Act since the pandemic began.

Mr Morrison said he was “disappointed” by the politicisation of the issue.

“This is about health: the same accusations were made … over a year ago when we closed the borders to mainland China.

“There’s no politics or ideology in a pandemic, and I am constantly taken aback by those who seek to inject it into it.”

Mr Morrison said he is “deeply, deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in India”, and thanked Indian-Australians with friends and family overseas for their patience.

“I know there’ll be plenty of people who’ll try to tell them all sorts of things about this, about what it means.

“It only means that we’re trying to keep Australians safe.”