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UPDATE: In a press conference this afternoon, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has introduced new restrictions for people travelling to and from India that will come into effect over the course of this week.
After Britain and New Zealand announced restrictions on arrivals from India, the lurking question for the Indian community in Australia was, will we follow suit?
Here are the latest restrictions:
- Direct flights from India to Sydney will be reduced by 30%
- Chartered services running in the Northern Territory will be reduced by 30%
- Departure exemptions for Australians travelling to high-risk countries (India) will be limited to only ‘urgent’ circumstances
- Travellers who have been India in the last 14 days will need to get a PCR test 72 hours before departing from their last point of embarkation
- A red list of high-risk countries like one prepared by the UK will soon be released by the Australian government
In the coming days, even France will be imposing a 10-day quarantine period on travellers from India to prevent the spread of any COVID-19 variant.
Health ministry data revealed that India recorded over 314,835 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. It is the highest single-day spike anywhere in the world.
Britain has put India in its red list of countries with a travel ban.
The ban commences at 4am, Friday 23 April, UK’s Health Minister Matt Hancock announced.
The move comes after reports that more than 200,000 cases of COVID are now being identified on a daily basis in India, and a new variant of the virus – perhaps more transmissible – may be causing this.
This daily rate has surpassed that of UK and Brazil.
New Zealand had earlier announced such a ban against India, albeit short-term.
India’s capital New Delhi is now under a week-long lockdown. Night curfews, weekend curfews are already in place in many states across the nation. Oxygen kits and medication are in short supply, and health services and crematoriums are stretched to their limits.
1200 patients have succumbed in Delhi alone, in the week of 14-20 April.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now cancelled his visit to India, his first major foreign tour after taking office in 2019.
Meanwhile, UK’s former chief scientific adviser Prof. Mark Walport told the BBC the decision to ban travel to and from India may be too late.
“There are concerns the new variant could be more effective at escaping a natural or vaccine-induced immune response,” he said.
India is the latest to join Britain’s 40-strong list of countries red-listed for travel.
A UK government directive states, “If you arrive in the UK from India before 4 am Friday 23 April, you must self-isolate for 10 days in the place you’re staying and take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and day 8. From 4 am Friday 23 April, if you have been in India in the previous 10 days, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British, Irish or third-country national with residency rights. You will need to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel.”
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