Australia to resume repatriation flights from India

Sydney, Australia, May 7 (EFE).- Australia will resume repatriation flights for its citizens in India after May 15, when its ban on travel from that country ends, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday.

“There will be three flights, we envision, in the course of May going into the Northern Territory, bringing back the most urgent of cases as that’s worked through by our high commissioner and consular officials in India,” Morrison said in the city of Newcastle, north of Sydney.

The repatriation will focus on some 900 Australians classified as vulnerable in India, where more than 9,000 citizens have been stranded since Canberra closed its international borders in March 2020.

The government has also prohibited since last week the entry of its citizens arriving from India and since Monday has threatened fines and jail sentences for those who try to return from the South Asian country, criminalization which has started a court battle over its legality.

Despite criticism from lawmakers, human rights defenders and expatriates, Morrison said that the biosecurity order temporarily in place will continue.

“That biosecurity order is working as exactly as it was intended to, and that will remain in place with no change until 15 May,” he said.

He said those wishing to board must first test negative to a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test and a rapid antigen test.

A decision has not been made on the resumption of commercial flights.

The government says the temporary suspension of flights is due to an increase in Covid-19 cases in Australia, where people returning from India represent 85 percent of those infected in mandatory quarantine centers.

Australia, which has managed the Covid-19 crisis well, has accumulated some 30,000 coronavirus infections since the beginning of the pandemic, including some 910 deaths. EFE


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