News Coronavirus More repatriation flights scheduled to rescue stranded Australians

More repatriation flights scheduled to rescue stranded Australians

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Several repatriation flights are due to bring home stranded Australians. Photo: AAP
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The Morrison government is working to rescue “vulnerable Australians” from coronavirus-ravaged India, with eight repatriation flights scheduled by June 4.

It comes after the second repatriation flight from India landed in Darwin on Sunday with 165 Australians on board.

Unlike the first flight, which departed with just 80 out of 150 passengers after a huge number returned positive COVID tests, no one was turned away this time.

The flight left New Delhi late on Saturday night and was the second government-organised flight since the ban on arrivals from India was lifted on May 15.

The returned Australians will now spend 14 days in quarantine at the Howard Springs facility.

Passengers who were banned from boarding the previous flight due to a positive coronavirus test will be first in line for future flights, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

India’s coronavirus death toll is increasing by more than 1000 most days. Photo: Getty

All those passengers who missed out have been contacted to arrange their return flight, a DFAT spokesperson said.

Eight flights are scheduled by June 4, with New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland volunteering to accept returning Australians.

Vulnerable Australians, such as those with a medical condition or disability, will be prioritised for those flights, DFAT said.

Of the 11,200 Australians in India registered with the government as wanting to return, about 1000 are considered vulnerable.

More than 26.5 million people in India have contracted the virus so far, and more than 299,200 people have died – including three Australians.

Sydney businessman Sunil Khanna died in New Delhi after contracting COVID-19.

Vaccination milestone

Meanwhile, Australia is on track to pass 500,000 coronavirus vaccinations in a week for the first time.

Although over-50s have been able to get an AstraZeneca jab for some weeks, there are concerns some may wait until later in the year for a Pfizer dose when 20 million are expected to arrive over the fourth quarter.

“We do not want anybody to wait,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters from Melbourne.

“Do not wait to be vaccinated if you are eligible.

“Please come forward. If you are not vaccinated and you catch COVID, you could die. It’s as simple as that.”

Late last week, Australia had officially administered 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses – still short of the four million the government had initially promised by the end of March.

As Parliament returns this week, it’s likely the government will face difficult questions over the vaccine rollout, quarantine and the timetable for reopening Australia’s borders.

with AAP