/ 28 April 2021

Australia seals off from India

All flights from India to Australia have been paused until 15 May as the coronavirus crisis deepens across the subcontinent. Passengers seeking to come to Australia from India via another country will also be blocked, and planned repatriation flights have been canned. PM Scott Morrison said the decision was based on official health advice following increased numbers of travellers from India testing positive to COVID in our hotel quarantine systems. Joining other international efforts, Australia will send initial assistance in the form of ventilators and personal protective equipment to help India’s smashed health system. Labor leader Anthony Albanese tweeted that Australia must “help our friends in need.”

They’ll have to stay put and wait it out. Foreign Minister Marise Payne says there are 9,000 Aussies in India who want to come home, and 650 are considered vulnerable. She also said those numbers are expected to rise. Among them are Australian cricketers including Steve Smith and David Warner who are there for the lucrative Indian Premier League. They won’t get any special treatment – Morrison says they’re travelling under their own steam and will get the same assistance as other Aussies. And he rejects the suggestion that the government’s abandoned citizens in their hour of need. “This is the challenge of a pandemic,” he said.

India continues to rack up more new coronavirus cases than any other nation by a long shot. And while the number of new cases was down yesterday for the first time in 6 days, the country still recorded more than 323,000 new infections. Another 2,771 people were reported to have died yesterday, taking the death toll to almost 200,000. But that’s unlikely to be the true extent of the toll the virus has taken… The country has ordered its armed forces to deliver oxygen to hospitals amid reports of hoarding. The World Health Organisation joins the US, UK, Germany and others who have pledged to send resources, including much-needed oxygen concentrator devices. “Heaven & earth are being moved to overcome challenges thrown up by this wave of COVID19,” India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted yesterday.

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