Wednesday, 12 May, 2021

Covid: Australians could face jail or fines if they return from India

The restrictions come into effect from May 3 and breaching the ban risks civil penalties and up to five years imprisonment Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement Premium
Ginger Lawrence | 01 May, 2021, 08:51

Coronavirus: Live updatesLast week, Australia had announced that it would cut the number of its citizens able to return from India and other red-zone countries to contain the risk of more virulent strains of Covid spreading.

Indian authorities and hospitals are struggling to cope with record Covid-19 infections and deaths.

From Monday, anyone who has been in India within 14 days of their intended arrival date in Australia will be banned from entering the country.

"We don't think the answer is to forsake those Australians in India and just shut them off", he added, reiterating the suspension was temporary to ensure Australia could manage arrivals from virus hotspots.

"The government does not make these decisions lightly", Hunt said in a statement. British and Irish nationals arriving in England from India must quarantine in a hotel. The law allows the government to take any necessary measures to prevent and control Covid-19, to protect the health of all Australians.

National cabinet instead "noted" Professor Kelly's assessment that India is the first country to meet the threshold of a high risk country.

It's estimated there are more than 9,000 Australian citizens and residents in India at the moment.

More than 9000 Australians in India are registered as wanting to return, including 650 people registered as vulnerable. The decision was taken after two Australian cricketers, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, who left the Indian Premier League midway, took a Qatar Airways flight on Thursday afternoon to return to Australia.

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A wreath lies on the coffin of a Covid-19 victim prior to cremation in Jammu, northern India.

The worsening Covid-19 crisis in India has spiralled in recent weeks.

"The friends and family of those in Australia are in extreme risk".

India's coronavirus death toll neared the bleak milestone of 200,000 with another 2,771 fatalities reported on Tuesday, while its armed forces pledged urgent medical aid to help battle the staggering spike in infections.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Cabinet is expected to take a decision on the matter under the country's Biosecurity Act, the country's public news service ABC News reported.

The health ministry said the ruling had been made "based on the proportion of people in quarantine who have acquired a Covid-19 infection in India".

On Friday, India reported 386,452 new Covid cases.

The government is sending oxygen supplies, ventilators and personal protective equipment to India through the Department of Foreign Affairs.