A second repatriation flight from India has landed in Darwin with 165 Australians on board and they will now spend 14 days in quarantine in the Howard Springs facility.
The flight left New Delhi late on Saturday and was the second such government-facilitated flight since the ban on arrivals from India was lifted.
The first was marred by a huge number of positive COVID-19 results, leaving just 80 of the 150 seats filled.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is prioritising passengers who were barred from boarding the previous flight due to a positive test for future flights.
All passengers who were unable to board last week’s plane had been contacted to arrange their return flight, a DFAT spokesperson said.
Eight flights are scheduled by June 4, with NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland volunteering to take returning Australians.
Vulnerable Australians would be prioritised for those flights, DFAT said.
Of the 11,200 Australians in India registered with the government as wanting to return, about 1000 are considered vulnerable.
Meanwhile, Australia is set to pass 500,000 COVID-19 vaccinations in a week for the first time as the Morrison government continues to press the case for people to get the jab as soon as they are eligible.
Over 50s have been able to get an AstraZeneca jab over the past couple of weeks, although there are concerns some may wait until later in the year for a Pfizer dose when 20 million arrive over the fourth quarter.
“We do not want anybody to wait. Do not wait to be vaccinated if you are eligible,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters from Melbourne.
“Please come forward and if you are not vaccinated, and you catch COVID, you could die. It’s as simple as that.”
Australia passed the 3.5 million mark for administering COVID-19 vaccine doses late last week, still shy of the four million that had been initially promised by the end of March by the government.
With the return of parliament this week, the vaccine rollout, quarantining and the time table for opening Australia’s international borders are likely to high on the list for debate.
Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil believes Australia is a long way from opening borders.
“We’ve got a federal government that had two responsibilities in this—vaccinations and quarantine—and they are doing a very average job of both those things,” she told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday. “They need to pick up their game.”
There were no locally acquired COVID-19 cases reported in the past week but NSW did report two new infections in quarantine.
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