Australia resumes repatriation flights from India for stranded citizens
The repatriation flights facilitated by the Australian government for its stranded citizens in India resumed from Friday, according to Foreign Minister Marise Payne. Payne said that a flight on Friday departed from Sydney to pick up Australian passengers in New Delhi before arriving back in Darwin on Saturday. It also carried life-saving oxygen equipment to India to support its COVID-19 response, she added.
Passengers will be quarantined on arrival in Australia
The passengers will have to undergo a strict quarantine to make sure they are not carrying the variant of the coronavirus first identified in India. These passengers will quarantine at the Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, Payne said, adding all passengers would undergo PCR and Rapid Antigen Testing before they travel.
Australia had temporarily banned the return of its people
Saturday's flight into Darwin would be 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.
Australia is also sending medical supplies to India
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. This will be the second flight of essential medical supplies to support India in COVID-19 health response under the Morrison Government's 37.1 million Australian dollars support package for India, which is experiencing a severe rate of COVID-19 infections, Payne said.
Australia has delivered over 15 tonnes of medical supplies
The next government-facilitated commercial flight from India is expected to arrive in Darwin on May 23 and arrangements for further flights into Australia are underway. Australia has now delivered over 15 tonnes of medical supplies to India, including over 2,000 ventilators and more than 100 oxygen concentrators. Payne praised the response of Australian businesses and welcomed the support offered by state and territory governments.
India's tally crosses 24 million; over 20 million recovered
The Victorian Government has committed 1,000 ventilators, the Queensland Government has donated two million Australian dollars in relief funds to the Australian Red Cross and Western Australia has also donated two million Australian dollars in relief funds. India on Friday reported 3.43 lakh new coronavirus infections, pushing the nationwide tally past 2.4 crore. In the past 24 hours, 4,000 fresh fatalities were also reported.