'Without hesitation': Australia could cut all flights from India

·3-min read

Australia is considering further travel restrictions on India, as the South Asian nation prepares to receive urgent humanitarian aid for its catastrophic coronavirus outbreak.

Cabinet's national security committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss harsher further measures and decide on assistance for the ailing country.

India recorded 352,991 cases on Monday, the fifth-straight day of setting a grim world record for most new infections.

A dead body waits to be cremated as multiple funeral pyres of those who died of COVID-19 burn at a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for mass cremation of coronavirus victims, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Delhi has been cremating so many bodies of coronavirus victims that authorities are getting requests to start cutting down trees in city parks, as a second record surge has brought India's tattered healthcare system to its knees. (AP Photo)
India set new world records five days in a row for the number of new Covid infections. The country is struggling to cope with a limited supply of oxygen and hospital space. Source: AP

Health Minister Greg Hunt said India's request for oxygen would be considered, while non-invasive ventilators are likely to be provided.

"India is literally gasping for oxygen," he told reporters on Monday.

Last week, the federal government cut repatriation and direct flight arrivals from India by 30 per cent.

People who have been in India during the past two weeks need to test negative for the disease within three days of boarding a flight to Australia.

Mr Hunt confirmed stopping all flights from India could be an option if health authorities advised the move was necessary.

"If those additional measures are recommended, we will take them with the heaviest of hearts but without any hesitation," he said.

He said India's humanitarian crisis was unfolding on an unimaginable scale.

"We remember the agony that our own Indian community is faced with," Mr Hunt said.

"It's very important that we are sensitive to the suffering that they face, and their friends and their family and their loved ones overseas face."

'Patient zero' contracted virus while in India for own wedding

A snap lockdown in Western Australia was pinned on an infected returned traveller who went to India for his own wedding.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the man's travel was approved months ago under the old criteria, which have since been dramatically tightened.

"A wedding would be very unlikely to be approved," she told 6PR radio.

The state's three-day lockdown will end at midnight AWST after no new cases of coronavirus were detected.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said public sentiment was against allowing Australians to head overseas for social events.

But she also argued states must pull their weight in helping Australians return from overseas, arguing NSW has done more than its share regarding hotel quarantine.

A healthcare worker in a hazmat suit collects specimen samples from a girl during a COVID-19 swab test in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, 26 April 2021. Indonesia has banned foreign travelers from India over the Covid-19 scare, official said. Indonesia has recorded more than 1,600,000 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases since the beginning of the pandemic.  EPA/DEDI SINUHAJI
Australia has limited flights from India by 30 per cent, but is considering stopping all travel as the country's battle with the pandemic heightens. Source: AP

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino said Australians should only be leaving the country for "genuinely urgent or compassionate reasons".

"Given the increasing risks posed in so many countries and the delayed rollout of the vaccine here in Australia, it is neither safe or logical to allow thousands of people to leave every month for a wide range of reasons including attending weddings," he said in a statement.

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