Australian govt to resume India repatriation flights after backlash

Australia to resume India repatriation flights after backlash
About 9,000 Australians are stranded in India. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The government of Australia said it will resume repatriation flights for its trapped citizens in India after a controversial ban on arrivals from the Asian country ends on 15 May.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced serious criticism and backlash for failing to help citizens trapped in the Covid-ravaged country.

The ban on Australian citizens trapped in India sparked further anger in home and abroad after the government said Australians seeking to fly home could face jail or fines.

Public outrage forced the Australian Prime Minister to back down this week, and say that jail terms would be “highly unlikely”.

On Friday, the Australian Prime Minister announced the government planned to bring back 900 “vulnerable” Australians during the second half of May on three flights.

Evacuees would be taken to the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory. By next week, the facility would be expanded to provide 2,000 beds.

Initially, the Australian government has justified the decision to impose the ban by arguing the high rate of infections seen in arrivals from India was putting the quarantine system under stress.

Mr Morrison said on Friday that the travel ban had worked in the past week to reduce the number of coronavirus cases in quarantine “back to more manageable levels”.

He said: “[We] will be at a level by 15 May to ensure, that as planned, we will be able to return to having those repatriation flights from India.”

There are about 9,000 Australian permanent residents and citizens are in Covid-ravaged India. Prime Minister Morrison said authorities would make a decision on restarting commercial flights next week. The majority of returning Australians from the Asian nation have come home on commercial airlines.

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