Thousands of Australians Stranded in India

The federal government has promised to help Australians stranded in India get back once flights resume.

“As soon as it’s possible for us to look at flights to bring them back to Australia, we will be doing all that we can to make that happen,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews told Sky News on Wednesday.

There are about 9000 Australians now stranded in India after a ban of flights from the country until at least May 15. Both flights from India to Sydney and repatriation flights to Darwin are paused, as well as indirect flights from India via Doha, Dubai, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

“The images that we’re seeing of what’s happening in India just shows the devastation of what is being experienced by so many people,” Andrews said, noting that the second-most populous country in the world has been recording over 300,000 new cases of CCP virus for days in a row.

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Member for Macpherson Karen Andrews speaks to media during a doorstop in the Press Gallery at Parliament House on March 23, 2021, in Canberra, Australia. (Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

The government will take further health advice and consider the situation in India around the mid of May to decide whether to extend the ban. The “most vulnerable people” who “need to come back to Australia,” which are about 650 in numbers, will be prioritized when flights resume.

Meanwhile, the Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan told the press on Wednesday that “one or two” new cases in his state today are from India.

Four new cases from India were already recorded in hotel quarantine in Perth; all returned on April 24. McGowan believes that there will be more new cases in the following days from that specific flight, with 79 passengers from the COVID-stricken country.

“These days the rate is now over half of our cases are out of India,” McGowan said.

“It’s terribly tragic… You see the news, those terrible cremations that are going on. They’re basically cutting down trees in parks to provide enough wood for cremations because so many people are dying. It’s awful.

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Family members and ambulance worker wearing PPE kit (Personal Protection Equipment) carry the bodies of the patients who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus at a cremation ground in New Delhi on April 27, 2021. (Prakash Singh/Getty Images)

“But as we’ve seen over the course of the last week, it puts a lot of pressure on our system, so we’re doing all we can to make sure that Australia and Western Australia remain in the very good condition we are, and that means we have to make difficult and tough decisions,” he said.

India has recorded over 17,600,000 cases and 198,000 deaths so far, according to Our World in Data.

8.8% of the country’s population has been vaccinated and 1.7% fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times’ tracking report of COVID vaccinations around the world.

The Morrison government has promised immediate humanitarian support to India, which includes non-invasion ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and other medical equipment.

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