Third Australian dies of Covid in India

·3-min read

A man from Sydney's west has died of Covid-19, after caring for his parents in a country grappling with a surge in virus cases,

Sunil Khanna, 51, an Australian citizen, was living in New Delhi prior to his death, caring for his parents who were Indian nationals, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr Khanna's brother said Sunil and his parents had tested positive for coronavirus on April 25, and he tried desperately to get an ambulance bed for his brother.

On April 29, after getting in touch with all the contacts he had, he was able to get a hospital bed for his brother.

The ambulance had just reached the hospital when Sunil suffered a cardiac pulmonary arrest and died. 

Within 14 hours his mother would also succumb to Covid.

A doctor wearing a Personal Protective Equipment suite (PPE) working inside of the Covid-19 Care Centre set up at Shehnai Banquet Hall attached to Lok Nayak covid-19 Hospital. Young doctors wearing Personal Protective Equipment suites (PPE) working inside the covid-19 care centre belongs to NGO
Daily cases of Covid-19 in New Delhi, India are still in the thousands. Source: SOPA Images, Sipa US via AAP

“I felt totally helpless,” Mr Khanna told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

“The health system has totally collapsed.”

Mr Khanna is now trying to look after his elderly father, who is along in India with no family, from afar, while mourning the loss of his brother and mother.

"He's my last remaining relative I have in India," he told Nine.

"An 83-year-old, alone by himself stuck in the home and I can't go there."

He is now desperately appealing to the government to allow his father onto Australian soil on humanitarian grounds. He told the Sydney Morning Herald he is willing to sponsor him on a parental visa.

According to the publication, Sunil Khanna is the third Australian citizen or resident to die of Covid-19 in India.

Prime Minister describes India as "dangerous place"

Sydney businessman Govid Kant became the second Australian to die from coronavirus in India.

The prime minister described an Australian man's death from coronavirus in India as a terrible tragedy but argued the virus-ravaged country was not safe.

Mr Kant, who was just 47-year-old, travelled to India last month to attend a funeral before succumbing to the disease.

"It's a dangerous place," Scott Morrison told 2GB radio on Wednesday.

"It's terrible what has happened to this relatively young man and it's a tragedy when we lose an Australian anywhere, and sadly that happens all around the world when people are in dangerous places.

"So I feel for the family, but it is not a safe place. We are trying to bring people back safely, but equally we've got to do it in a way which doesn't put at risk everything that has been achieved here in Australia."

A COVID-19 patient on oxygen support waiting for admission lies on chairs outside the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital in Chennai, India, Monday, May 17, 2021. Source:  Associated Press
A COVID-19 patient on oxygen support waiting for admission lies on chairs outside the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital in Chennai, India, Monday, May 17, 2021. Source: Associated Press

Mr Morrison has been accused of abandoning Australians in India after imposing a weeks-long travel ban and threatening anyone who dared to defy the restrictions with massive fines or jail time.

Former cricketer Michael Slater described the policy of stopping Australians returning home as a disgrace and said the prime minister had "blood on his hands".

The India travel ban lifted on Saturday and about 70 people have since returned to Australia, but there are still almost 10,000 people desperate to come back.

India is recording about 340,000 new cases and 4000 coronavirus deaths each day.

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