Direct passenger flights between India and Australia have been paused as part of the Australian Government‘s new measures to protect Australians from the increased risk of the COVID-19 outbreak in India. Australia will also provide significant new support to assist the Indian Government in their humanitarian response, including a million surgical masks and 500 ventilators.
In a media statement tonight, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia recognises the challenging COVID-19 crisis that India is battling and “we stand ready to provide more support to our friends in India and Indian Australians during this difficult time”.
On advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Mr Morrison said India has been determined to be a high-risk country for the purposes of travel arrangements.
He said Australia will implement a temporary pause on direct passenger flights between India and Australia for two weeks, with consideration of further flights to be made by 15 May.
Passengers on all future flights will be required to have both a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result and a negative Rapid Antigen test result prior to taking off.
Once flights restart, the Government will prioritise the return of vulnerable Australians. Already almost 20,000 registered Australians have returned from India since the pandemic began.
Mr Morrison said restrictions have been placed on outbound travel exemptions to high-risk countries to strictly essential travel only (national interest, medical exemption and COVID-19 purposes).
“For indirect flights through Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), the Government is aware that flights to and from these transit points and India have been paused by respective governments,” he said.
“As a close friend and comprehensive strategic partner, Australia stands with India as it battles a surge in COVID-19 cases.”
Following consultation with the Indian Government, Mr Morrison said Australia will provide emergency medical supplies.
“The initial package of support includes rapid deployment of 500 non-invasive ventilators, with capacity to deploy up to a total of 3,000 ventilators,” he said.
“Our Government is also supplying a significant package of personal protective equipment (PPE), including one million surgical masks, 500,000 P2/N95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.
“The Government has agreed to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables.”
Mr Morrison said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will manage the movement of PPE and equipment over the next week.
“Our Government is standing with Australians in India and we recognise the difficulties they face. The Hardship Program and Consular Support continues to be available to Australians in India.
“The current restrictions will be under regular review, as we look to find a solution for those seeking to return to Australia,” he said.