Australian DIES in Covid-ravaged India – but authorities are VERY tight-lipped on details
- Australian citizen has been reported to have died in Covid ravaged India
An Australian citizen has died in Covid plagued India – but authorities have yet to confirm the virus as the cause.
Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell was asked by a senate committee hearing on Friday if he knew of any Australians who had died waiting to leave the country.
‘The department is aware and providing consular assistance, in accordance with its charter, to the family of an Australian permanent resident who reportedly has died in India,’ he said.
‘I’m advised, owing to our privacy obligations, we won’t be providing any further comment.’
Fire force personnel of the Greater Bangalore metropolitan area spray disinfectant during an extended lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 disease in Bangalore, India on Friday
More than 350,000 Covid cases were recorded in India on Wednesday alone. Pictured: a banquet hall temporarily converted into a coronavirus ward in New Delhi
There is some mystery surrounding the case with Mr O’Farrell indicating Australian authorities were remaining tight lipped because it was not yet clear how the person died.
He added that India’s nightly reported infection rate was greater than Canberra’s population and that he doubted anyone could say with certainty Australian’s were not among the fatalities.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australians stuck in India are a priority for repatriation flights which will commence next week.
However, those who fail a pre-flight coronavirus test will be banned from boarding when rescue planes restart from May 15.
Mr Morrison on Friday said the India travel ban would end on its planned expiry date, following a fierce backlash against the harsh measures.
‘The pause that we put in place for travelers coming back from India is working,’ he told reporters in Newcastle.
Three repatriation flights – each carrying 150 people – will land in the Northern Territory and Australians on board will quarantine at the Howard Springs facility in Darwin.
The remote accommodation has been expanded from a capacity of 850 people up to 2000.
‘Rapid antigen testing is a requirement and a negative test to get on a flight to Australia. I’m sure that’s what all Australians would expect,’ Mr Morrison said.
The new measures for all resuming flights from India into the Northern Territory, will require passengers to return both a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and a negative Rapid Antigen test before boarding.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said these measures help Australians return home from India safely, while ensuring the case load at Howard Springs remains manageable.
‘The Territory always stands ready to help our fellow Australians and we were there to help those first Aussies home from Wuhan at the start of this pandemic,’ Chief Minister Gunner said.
‘There is a humanitarian crisis in India and we have the gold standard facility with the health care heroes the country needs at our Centre for National Resilience to help get Australians home safely.
The federal government has also confirmed NSW, Queensland and Victoria will also begin allowing direct flights from India.
While South Australia is considering the move ‘favourably’.