Half of 150 Australians booked to return from India barred from travelling after Covid test

Half of 150 Australians booked to return from India barred from travelling after Covid test

Among the 150 people who were to fly out of New Delhi for Australia on a repatriation flight, over 40 people have tested positive for Covid-19. The passengers have now been taken off the flyers' list for the flight on Saturday.

Australia has started repatriation flights from India for its stranded citizens in the country amid a deadly spread of Covid-19 cases in the country. While over 40 have tested positive for Covid, another 70 who were in close contact have also been barred from flying.

Almost half of the total number of stranded Australians who were to fly home from India have now been barred from returning.

The report further said that about 10,000 Australians and permanent residents have registered with the Australian government wanting to return from India. About 1,000 of these people have been deemed vulnerable.

The flight was to leave for Australia early on Saturday and the repatriated Australians were to quarantine at a special facility, reported The Guardian.

Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell told India Today TV, “I asked the government to look at what can be done to ensure the flights can be full in the future if others test positive. Maybe a standby system.”

On being asked about the news of nearly half of those who were due to return to Australia no longer being able to travel, he said 10,000 people have registered to go home.

The repatriation flights facilitated by the Australian government for its stranded citizens in India resumed from Friday. According to foreign minister Marise Payne, the flight on Friday departed from Sydney to pick up Australian passengers in New Delhi before arriving back in Darwin on Saturday.

On the issue of unaccompanied children in India trying to get back to Australia, O’Farell said, "The difficulty is getting airlines to accept unaccompanied children coming back, and also needing an adult to quarantine with them on their return to Australia.”

“But both India and Australia closed their borders, and there is an international flight ban, there are very few flights in and out of Australia, and there are very few that enable unaccompanied children, especially young children, to return home unaccompanied,” he added.

With 3,43,144 people testing positive for coronavirus in a day, India's Covid-19 tally of cases climbed to 2,40,46,809, while the death toll rose to 2,62,317 with 4,000 daily fatalities on Friday.

Payne said the passengers would have to undergo a strict quarantine to make sure they are not carrying the variant of the coronavirus first identified in India.

This was the first flight after the Australian government imposed a temporary ban recently with a threat of criminal sanctions, including five years in jail and fines of up to 66,000 Australian dollars for people who try to return from India.

Payne said this temporary pause had helped mitigate the risk of potentially higher rates of infection presenting on arrival in Australia and ensured the quarantine system was able to receive further flights.

Saturday's flight into Darwin brings the total number of government facilitated commercial flights from India to 39 returning over 6,400 Australians since March 2020.

The next government-facilitated commercial flight from India is expected to arrive in Darwin on May 23 and arrangements for further facilitated flights into Australia are underway.