Australia receives backlash for harsh travel ban against India

03 Mai, 2021, 14:44 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Covid Australia’s ban on citizens returning from India in ‘best interests’ says PM Scott Morrison

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that all the direct passenger flights from India will remain suspended until May 15 due to rising Coronavirus numbers in the country.

Australian citizens returning home from India could face up to five years in jail and fines after the government made the journey temporarily illegal.

"There's no politics or ideology in a pandemic, and I am constantly taken aback by those who seek to inject it into it", Morrison said, adding that nobody in the nation had yet been jailed under the federal Biosecurity Act since the pandemic began previous year.

Family members carry the body of a COVID-19 victim at Gazipur crematorium on April 28, 2021 in New Delhi, India.

"About 15 per cent of our Howard Springs facility now has COVID in it, and almost all of that has been from returning Indians in recent weeks". "However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level".

Mr Morrison said it was a temporary arrangement in place while quarantine and testing are strengthened.

However critics - among them medical experts and legal groups - argue the government's move to criminalise Indian arrivals was extreme and disproportionate to the health risks.

"That has been our benchmark that we have agreed with the states and territories right throughout", he said.

"We have been charting that very carefully and there has been a couple of times where that has increased above the two per cent and we have needed to take action".

"We have to remember that our primary aim has to keep Australia safe at this point, and that was the information we were given on public health grounds".

Morrison said this is a temporary arrangement and a very hard decision.

There are an estimated 9,000 Australians in India, 600 of whom are classed as vulnerable.

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Labor has called on the government to do more to assist India, as thousands of people are dying daily with COVID-19.

Dr Miller blasted the government's "precautionary measure" today, apologising live on-air to Indian-Australians.

"These are the things we have to do to ensure I can do that, so I can".

Outbound global flights from Australia are now banned.

The prime minister has shut down accusations the fine and jail time for returning Australians who have visited India in the past fortnight are racist.

He said that he wants to get those repatriation flights running safely again.

He said the powers would be "used responsibly" to enforce the block on arrivals from India, to ease pressure on the hotel quarantine system.

"There is infrastructure, this is a country which is a first-world country", he said.

"Australia has everything going to make this happen, probably apart from the will of the government to make it happen".

The COVID-19 situation across India has dramatically worsened in the last three weeks. In a statement, the commission said it will directly approach the government directly with its concerns.

There have been calls from Labor and a number of state leaders for the federal government to invest in more purpose-built quarantine facilities, arguing the hotels are increasing public health risk because they are not created to prevent infected people from passing on the virus to others in the same hotel. "It just means we are not prepared".

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