Australia suspends flights from India as COVID-19 outbreak explodes
Australia will suspend incoming flights from India until the middle of May as the country experiences a soaring outbreak of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said flights will be suspended immediately until at least May 15 to prevent transmission crossing borders.
Repatriation flights for Australians still in India are being organised.
A relief package will be sent from Australia to India, which includes more than 500 ventilators and more than a million surgical masks.
Mr Morrison said indirect flights from India have already been paused by key transit hubs such as Doha, meaning those flights won’t be coming into Australia as usual.
Restrictions on people in Australia being able to travel to India were already in place
In the past 24 hours India has recorded 323,000 new COVID-19 cases and an additional 2,771 deaths.
Roughly 117 Indians are succumbing to the disease every hour, with many experts believing these figures are conservative.
India is second only to the United States for total COVID-19 infections at 17.3 million.
New Zealand has temporarily suspended travel from India after it received 17 positive cases in overseas travellers in early April.
Flight ban comes as Australia’s quarantine facilities face being overwhelmed with positive cases
The flight ban is in response to a jump in cases in Australia’s hotel quarantine linked to people entering the country from Australia, Mr Morrison said.
“[Cases] went from 90 the previous week to 143,” Mr Morrison said.
The prime minister reiterated the importance of “pausing” to enable hotel quarantine facilities to reduce cases – particularly in Darwin where repatriations flights are headed.
“This is a rapidly escalating situation,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Australia’s hotel quarantine program had a 99.99 percent success rate.
He said “no one in this country” would’ve believed that claim if he’d made it a year ago.
“That is what the hotel quarantine system has achieved,” he said.
“I think there’s not a country in the world that would not want a quarantine system working as well as that. But it is not 100 per cent foolproof.”