Sydney | Australia decided on Tuesday to suspend flights from India until May 15 as the COVID-19 pandemic in the South Asian country reached an unprecedented level of severity.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison justified this decision by the “risks” posed by travelers from India, including thousands of Australians including famous cricketers.
Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have already suspended or restricted their flights following a record rise in cases in the country of 1.3 billion people.
Australia has also announced its decision to send medical aid including oxygen containers, ventilators and protective gear to India, where hospitals are overwhelmed.
The country, which on Monday recorded a world record of 352,991 people infected in a single day, and a national record of 2,812 deaths, was plunged into chaos in a few days by the “Indian” variant.
Mr Morrison called the situation “a terrible humanitarian crisis”.
This suspension of flights comes the day after the lifting of a three-day lockdown of the Australian city of Perth, Western Australia, after a man returning from India contaminated other people in his quarantine hotel.
The virus was then reportedly spread to others, leading officials in that state to ask Canberra to toughen measures on flights from India.
Mr. Morrison stressed that this suspension is temporary and that repatriation flights will resume for the most vulnerable people as a priority.
“We don’t think the solution is to abandon the Australians in India and cut them off, as some seem to suggest,” he added.
Australia closed its borders to most non-Australians in March 2020. Everyone entering its territory must observe 14 days of quarantine, which has undoubtedly helped curb the spread of the epidemic.
Australia has totaled less than 30,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic, a disease that has killed 910 people on this huge island-continent with just over 25 million inhabitants.