Daily US Times: Australians returning home from the current Covid-19 hotspot India could face up to five years in jail and fines after the Australian government made the journey temporarily illegal.
The Australian health ministry said the ruling had been made “based on the proportion of people in quarantine who have acquired a Covid-19 infection in India”.
Australia banned all flights from India earlier this week.
There are an estimated 9,000 Australians in India right now, 600 of whom are classed as vulnerable.
Australian media report that this will be the first time Australians have been criminalised for returning to their own country.
One doctor told ABC that the Australian government’s move was disproportionate to the threat posed by those returning from India.
GP and health commentator Dr Vyom Sharmer said: “Our families are quite literally dying in India overseas… to have absolutely no way of getting them out – this is abandonment,”
From Monday, any Australian who has been in India within 14 days of their intended arrival date in their home country will be banned from entering the country.
Failing to comply with the new ruling could result in an A$66,000 (£37,000) fine, a five-year jail sentence, or both. The decision will be reviewed on 15 May, according to the health ministry.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said in the statement: “The government does not make these decisions lightly.”
The statement added: “However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of Covid-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level.”