Australia has taken notice of the COVID emergency in India and decided to restrict the number of people to be allowed to come to Australia in order to safeguard Australia’s hotel quarantine program and keep the local community safe. The National Cabinet meeting held on April 22 decided to cut flights coming in from India by 30% as the number of infections in travellers returning from the subcontinent rises. In other words Indians are now restricted to come here and there will be tighter controls on their numbers in order to keep the community safe.
It also has taken in principle decision to prepare a list of countries to be designated ‘high-risk countries’ – of which India will be one on the lines of the UK’s decision to prepare a Red List of high risk nations. Returning travellers from those countries will require a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of boarding their flight home.
The worrying fact is that India has been practising these measurers for months but has failed to arrest the spread of this deadly virus.
Indian has become the new epicentre of the pandemic, with surging COVID-19 infections – including more than 300,000 diagnosed in the past 24 hours.
According to official figures from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Centre, India has had 15, 930, 965 (more than 15.93 million) cases since the pandemic began, and 184,657 deaths. The country is grappling with the crises of oxygen shortages and lack of hospital beds in key areas where numbers are surging and people dying in ambulances, hospital compounds and in transit while running around looking for hospital beds.
Health experts in India believe a new “double mutant” strain – dubbed B.1.617 – is likely to be behind the most recent surge in cases on the subcontinent. They have been claiming for over two weeks now that the virus has become ‘air borne’ and thus very dangerous for anyone moving around in those affected areas.
Bharat Times was ahead of the whole pile of media in predicting the trouble now taken cognizance by Australian leaders. Back on February 23, we sensed the dangerous situation in India and warned all stakeholders of what was to come.
No wonder Australian Indians are restricted now for arrival into Australia and that explains PM Scott Morrison’s concerns.
“As time goes on, and the pandemic continues to rage, there are countries that are frankly of greater risk than others,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said taking stock of things both locally and internationally.
“We’ve seen, in particular, most recently an increase in the rate of cases in our quarantine system at a state and territory level for arrivals from India.”
Western Australia hotel quarantine has been put to test and is now struggling to deal with increasing numbers of infected returning travellers. And the PM is mindful of the fact that Australians returning from India are in the WA hotel quarantine.
“Just in WA, in the past month alone 40 per cent of cases in quarantine had recently been in India. In the previous month it was just 11 per cent,” he said earlier.
“With more and more arrivals coming from India, we need to seriously look at temporarily restricting travel of people who have been in or through India.”
People leaving Australia to visit high-risk countries including India will also be cut.
“We’ll be instructing the Australian Border Force to ensure only in very urgent circumstances would an exemption be permitted for someone to travel to a high-risk country,” Mr Morrison said.
Bad news for those Indians now in India as they are restricted and will have to wait till they are allowed back in. On the other hand if you are considering visiting India, you will have to rethink if it is absolutely essential to go. In order ensure Australia can return to some sort of normality, collective efforts will have to be made by all Australians to keep Australia safe.