Australia suspends flights from India over Covid-19 crisis
Sydney (Australia), Apr 27 (EFE).- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Tuesday the suspension of flights to and from India until May 15, as the South Asian country grapples with the second wave of Covid-19 infections with record daily cases.
Morrison said at a press conference in Sydney that indirect flights connecting India through places such as Doha (Qatar), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Singapore have been suspended by the authorities.
“We needed to slow that pace significantly in the next few weeks,” Morrison remarked, explaining that 95 percent of Covid-19 cases in a quarantine center in the Northern Territory for Australians returning from abroad were from India.
The prime minister, who announced last week a 30 percent reduction in flights from India, also announced the dispatch of 500 ventilators and 1,000 surgical masks, among other equipment, to help India cope with the pandemic.
The suspension of flights to India, where there are some 8,000 Australians stranded, occurs after the state of Western Australia ordered a three-day lockdown in Perth and the adjacent region of Peel.
The lockdown order came in response to the detection of Covid-19 in a man who had completed his quarantine at a hotel in Perth, next to the room of another infected person, before roaming in the city freely for days and without knowing that he had contracted the disease.
Two other people were infected following this outbreak in Western Australia, which the local press linked to another man who traveled to India to marry before returning to Australia.
The supposed wedding trip to India revived a strong debate in Australia, which has kept its borders closed since March 2020, regarding travel exemptions and the hotel quarantine system.
The recent developments come at a time when new strains have begun to appear, while it appears evident that these quarantine facilities fail to prevent air transmission of the dreaded virus.
Australia is known to have managed the Covid-19 crisis successfully so far and its 25 million population has been able to live a relatively normal life – with preventive lockdowns from time to time – despite delays in its vaccination program.
The country has recorded 29,700 cases and 910 deaths since the start of the pandemic, most of them during a second wave caused by lax security protocols during quarantine at hotels in Melbourne. EFE