Calls grow to ban flights from India as it records 350,000 new Covid-19 infections: Prime Minister Scott Morrison to decide today whether to shut the border to the sub-continent
- India suffered a world-record 352,991 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours
- Australia’s national security committee is meeting to discuss flight ban
- PM Scott Morrison has cut back flights from sub-continent by 30 per cent
Cabinet’s national security committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss sending aid such as oxygen tanks and potentially banning flights altogether.
Last week Mr Morrison cut the number of flights from India by 30 per cent after the virus leaked into the community from a traveller from India in hotel quarantine in Perth.
Scott Morrison will decide today whether to ban flights from India (pictured) as the nation suffers a record 352,991 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to Mr Morrison last Friday demanding that flights be halted.
‘We’re due to have a direct flight in the next week or so coming in to Brisbane. It’s a high-risk proposition,’ she said on Tuesday morning.
‘Other countries have done the suspension. And I know that the federal government is considering it today. And I would welcome any response that they have to do that.’
India has broken the daily record for Covid cases for the fifth day in a row.
Ms Palaszczuk said all inbound flights from India must be halted to protect Australia from the mutant strain of the virus.
‘Everyone understands that although this is a tough measure, it’s actually a necessary measure, because what we are seeing in India is a huge second wave, some 300,000 cases a day,’ she told Seven’s Sunrise program.
‘It’s absolutely tragic what’s happening there, and with a mutant strain I don’t think Australia can afford that really high risk.
Ms Palaszczuk said there was no way to safely quarantine arrivals from India in Australia’s major cities.
‘I’m quite sure the federal government’s going to give this due consideration, but I don’t think we can have these flights coming into our major cities across, across the nation,’ she said.
Relatives and family members carry the dead body of a Covid-19 victim for a cremation at Nigambodh Ghat Crematorium, on the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi
‘I think they would have to go into a specially regional quarantine centre, whether it’s Howard Springs, I know Mark McGowan has called for Christmas Island to be used as well.’
Australia is considering a request for oxygen and is likely to send non-invasive ventilators to India, where the health system is in extreme crisis.
‘India is literally gasping for oxygen,’ Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Monday.
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.
India ordered its armed forces on Monday to help tackle surging new coronavirus infections, as nations including Britain, Germany and the United States pledged urgent medical aid to try to contain an emergency overwhelming the country’s hospitals.
The situation in the world’s second most populous country is ‘beyond heartbreaking’, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, adding that WHO is sending extra staff and supplies including oxygen concentrator devices.
Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the situation in India was desperate.
‘They are our good friends, we should be assisting in whatever way we can,’ he told ABC radio.
‘A breakout of this virus in one part of the world is a breakout everywhere.’
Mr Albanese said the crisis also highlighted the need to establish dedicated quarantine facilities with open air for returning travellers.
‘The Commonwealth needs to get quarantine right,’ he said.
India’s Covid death toll could be ten times higher than is being officially reported, according to analysis of the numbers being burned in crematoriums. Pictured: A man walks past a burning funeral pyres of people who died from Covid-19 at a crematorium ground in New Delhi