Australia on April 27 has suspended all direct passenger flights from India until May 15 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the South Asian country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.
Indirect flights from India through key transit hubs, such as Singapore, Doha, and Kuala Lumpur, had already been paused by their respective governments, according to Morrison.
The government will reassess the flight suspension before May 15.
Morrison also said that repatriation flights for Australians stranded in India — which is about 9,000 Australians, 650 of whom are considered vulnerable — are being organized.
“We don’t think the answer is to just forsake those in India and just shut them off,” Morrison said, rejecting criticism that he was abandoning Australians still in India by suspending the flights.
“I don’t see this as a problem we have to solve, I see this as a group of people we need to help,” Morrison said.
Morrison also said that Australia is sending an “initial package of support” to India containing over 500 ventilators, 20,000 face shields, and over a million surgical masks.
“There’ll be more to follow,” Morrison said.
India has reported record-breaking daily cases of COVID-19 for five days in a row, with the peak surpassing 350,000. It has the second highest number of cases in the world at over 17.6 million, coming after the United States.
According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, Australia has recorded over 29,700 COVID-19 cases.
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