Covid surge: Australia bans direct passenger flights from India

at 6:00 pm
Representational image

New Delhi (NVI) Considering the spike in daily Covid cases in India, Australia has temporarily suspended direct passenger flights from India as the country suffers from a massive surge in positive cases amid a second wave of the pandemic.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the ban would be in place until at least May 15 to avoid any risk of infection from India. This may also leave thousands of Australians stranded in India.

“Today we agreed, in addition to the measures that were announced after the last National Cabinet meeting, to pause direct passenger flights between India and Australia until the 15th of May. It will be reviewed prior to that time in terms of any further extension of that pause in those arrangements,” the Australian PM said during a press conference in which the grave Covid situation in India was highlighted.

“This will impact directly on two passenger services from India into Sydney and two repatriation flights from India to Darwin, this impacting around 500 arrivals. The passengers on all future flights, when and if these flights are resumed going forward, will be required to have both a negative PCR test and a negative rapid antigen test prior to uplift,” he said.

“Further flights to India will be considered, as I said, prior to the 15th of May with a focus on supporting vulnerable Australians, in particular in relation to charter flights that have been put in place by the Australian Government,” Scott Morrison added.

“For indirect flights, the Autralian PM said that is another way that people who may have been in India would come to Australia, and already it has been announced and we are advised that indirect flights through Doha, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we are aware flights to and from these transit points and India have been paused by the respective governments.

“So that third country entry point into Australia has already been closed by those key embarkation points to Australia. That will obviously have impacts, in a positive way, in terms of restricting the inflow and in fact in most cases eliminating it and for places like Perth and South Australia and ports that do not have direct flights,” he said at the press conference.

Apart from that, the Autralian PM said that Australia will provide an “initial package”, and there will be more to follow, of support and to deliver this as soon as possible.

“509 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves, and 20,000 face shields. We will also agree to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables. DFAT will manage the movement of this equipment over the course of the next week,” he said.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who was also present at the conference, said that prior to the current outbreak in India, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had eight planned flights from India in May and that they will be paused, after the decisions taken by the Australian cabinet today in view of the Covid surge in India.

Australia had last week announced that it would reduce the number of its citizens who able to return from India and other countries showing alarming surge in cases to contain the risk of more virulent strains of Covid from spreading.