Half of repatriation flight from India unable to board after coronavirus tests

Henrietta Strickland
May 14, 2021

The man, identified as Sunny, has booked two seats on the repatriation flight for him and his elderly mother. Now he had been prevented from returning Saturday because he had contracted COVID-19.

This would be the first flight after the Australian government imposed a temporary ban recently with a threat of criminal sanctions, including five years in jail and fines of up to 66,000 Australian dollars for people who try to return from India.

The government's controversial travel ban on Australian citizens who had been in India 14 days before their arrival in Australia from coming to the country, is due to expire at midnight.

Anyone who presents a positive COVID-19 result will be refused entry into Australia, as too will their close contacts, should any also booked on the flight.

Thirty close contacts of the passengers have also been barred from boarding.

"We can pull out people from India and do it safely" he said.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) did not immediately respond to request for comment from Reuters.

The aircraft will make a pit-stop in Darwin, before continuing on to Delhi, and is due to land just after 6pm local time tonight.

Over the past three weeks, India has reported more than 300,000 infections each day, overwhelming its health system. India's total death toll is now nearing 260,000.

This will be the second flight of essential medical supplies to support our partners in their COVID-19 health response under the Morrison Government's 37.1 million Australian dollar support package for India, which is experiencing a severe rate of COVID-19 infections, she said.

A Qantas repatriation flight bound for Australia from coronavirus-ravaged India will be half empty after 48 passengers tested positive. Six government-chartered flights, each with a 150-passenger capacity, are expected to return Australians from India before the end of May.

The flight is due to leave New Delhi on Friday night and scheduled to touch down in Darwin on Saturday morning after 9am, where passengers will be whisked away to an old mining camp at Howard Springs to undergo two weeks of quarantine.

The repatriation flights facilitated by the Australian government for its stranded citizens in India resumed from today, Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

"What we will be doing is receiving our first repatriation flight into the Northern Territory as part of the charter arrangements we have ... to bring back those first people from India at that time".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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