Australians returning from India face five-year jail or hefty fine
Threatening a five-year jail term or a hefty fine, the Australian government temporarily barred its citizens from entering the country if they happened to be in India within 14 days of their intended arrival. The decision was announced after a meeting of the National Cabinet on Friday and will come into force from Monday. Here are more details.
Australia has already suspended all passenger flights from India
The move aims at keeping the coronavirus spread in check in Australia as India is facing a surge in infection cases. "The decision was based on the proportion of overseas travelers in quarantine in Australia, who have contracted the infection in India," according to Health Minister Greg Hunt. Notably, earlier this week, Australia had suspended all passenger flights from India till May 15.
Decision was made under Biosecurity Act, 2015
Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act, 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units, five years' imprisonment, or both. The decision will be revised on May 15 following advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).
CMO to consider epidemiology in India, will form proportionate response
The CMO will consider the epidemiology in India and likely impacts on Australia's quarantine capacity, and provide a further expert assessment of the public health risk to Australia to form a proportionate response. The statement said, "It is important that the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine system is protected and COVID-19 cases in isolation facilities are reduced to a manageable level."
Australia expressed solidarity with Indian-Australian community
The statement also expressed solidarity with India, saying, "Our hearts go out to the people of India and our Indian-Australian community. The friends and family of those in Australia are at extreme risk."
Australia to supply 1,000 ventilators, PPE, surgical masks
Australia will provide India with emergency medical supplies, including over 1,000 non-invasive ventilators. Australia has also offered to supply a significant number of personal protective equipment (PPE), one million surgical masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves, and 20,000 face shields. Meanwhile, other countries such as the UK, Maldives, and Canada, have also imposed a ban on passenger flights from India.
Biden restricts travel from India to the US
US President Joe Biden on Friday issued a proclamation, restricting travel to the United States of all non-citizens who have stayed in India in the past 14 days. The new travel restrictions have been imposed for an indefinite period.
India recorded over 3.86 lakh new COVID-19 cases
India on Friday reported 3,86,452 new coronavirus infections, the biggest single-day spike for the third consecutive day. The nationwide tally has now risen to 1,87,62,976 with a daily test positivity rate of 20.1%. Daily deaths declined slightly to 3,498 a day after a record 3,645 patients were reported to have died of COVID-19. However, experts say the tally is grossly under-reported.