Tag: India flights

Australia tightens flight travel ban from India; 5 years jail or $ 66,000 fine, or both for ban breakers


By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 1 May 2021: After banning inbound flights from India till May 15, Australia has now paused travelers from India entering Australian territory if the passenger has been in India within 14 days of the person’s intended arrival date in Australia. This further tightening and 5 years jail term, a $66,000 fine, or both for those breaking the ban is being seen to lessen the pressure on quarantine facilities in Australia.

A media release from Greg Hunt Minister for Health and Aged Care says, ” The temporary pause follows today’s meeting (30 April) of National Cabinet and was based on advice about the worsening COVID-19 situation in India. The pause will come into effect at 12.01 am on Monday, 3 May 2021.

The risk assessment that informed the decision was based on the proportion of overseas travelers in quarantine in Australia who have acquired a COVID-19 infection in India.”

“Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units, five years’ imprisonment, or both.

The temporary pause will be reconsidered on 15 May by the Government following advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The CMO will consider the epidemiology in India and likely impacts on Australia’s quarantine capacity, and provide a further expert assessment of the public health risk to Australia to inform a proportionate response.”

“While sympathizing with the COVID-hit Indian people, the statement says, ” The Government does not make these decisions lightly. However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level,” the media release says.

Commenting on the Government’s inhumane decision to abandon Australian citizens in India, Peter Khalil, Federal Member for Wills says, “This decision to ban Australians in India from coming home is inhumane and flies in the face of all our values as Australian citizens.

The government’s most basic responsibility is to protect its citizens, and that responsibility doesn’t end at the border.

“All Australians have the right to come home and it’s disgraceful that the government has taken that right away from thousands of our fellow citizens.”

Meanwhile, an epidemiologist told the ABC that the India flight ban shows a ‘lack of confidence by the Scott Morrison government.

In a statement the Subcontinent Friends of Labor (SCFOL, Victoria) Chairperson, Mr. Manoj Kumar says, “We strongly stand in solidarity with Australians stuck in India and demand Australian government to make the necessary arrangements to ensure their health and safety and bring them back safely from India to Australia.

If Australians can’t come to Australia in this difficult situation, then where they will go. Yes, the Australian Government has to stop the virus from spreading in Australia. However, they must show leadership and come with the best alternative solution to protect Australians facing deep trouble overseas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison must come forward to bring back home around 9000 Australians stuck in India.”

Flights ban from India ‘must be balanced with a hand outstretched to help’: Australian Greens

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 April 2021: The Australian Greens have urged the Scott Morrison Government to step up and redouble its efforts for the people of India and provide much-needed assistance as the country battles millions of current cases. The plea came in a media release by Greens MPs.

Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Foreign Affairs spokesperson says: “We in Australia are in the unique situation of having COVID-19 well under control, and we should use this opportunity to help others.

“I’ve worked closely with groups from the Indian diaspora in Australia and they’re so distressed about what’s happening there and are calling on Australia to step up.”

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge says, “Australia talks big about the relationship with India when it comes to trade, this needs to extend to providing support when it is so desperately needed.

“In recognition of the risk of the crisis there, the Government has acted to limit arrivals from India but this must be balanced with a hand outstretched to help.
“Our assistance with oxygen, ventilators, and medication right now could save thousands of lives, communities here deserve to know we have done what we can,” Mr. Shoebridge said.

The release from the office of Senator Janet Rice quotes India’s needs provided by the Bengaluru based Mercy Mission as follows:

1) Liquid Oxygen Cylinders and Jumbo cylinders can be used by hospitals to increase procurement and use as demand has increased 4 to 5 fold and there is low transport and storage capacity at hospitals. As per reports, there is adequate generation capacity of Oxygen in industries, but the supply chain and transport/storage equipment is inadequate which will help immediately ease the situation.

2) Oxygen Concentrators of capacity 5L to 10L per min, which can be used by individuals in their homes.

3) Oxygen generating plants of sizes of 1KL that can be installed at individual hospitals and related equipment to build/ install the same.

4) Ventilators (invasive and non-invasive) and HFNC (High flow nasal cannula) machines that can be distributed to small hospitals to address critical patients.

5) At this moment, there is a shortage of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab medicines, which are being prescribed by doctors for moderate/ severe patients resulting in high demand.

Bill Shorten: We cannot abandon Australians in India, as we didn’t do elsewhere; for vaccine production ‘people before profits’ needed


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, April 30, 2021: Labor leader Bill Shorten today said, “we cannot abandon Australian’s in India, as we didn’t do elsewhere. They are sitting duck to COVID as the system there is overwhelmed.” Mr. Shorten was talking to the media at his Electorate Office in Moonee Ponds.

BILL SHORTEN’s OPENING REMARKS Media Conference 30 April 2021 (See Video)

He called upon the Scott Morrison government to bring the Australian’s in India home with all the precautions when they are here and extend more material support to India.

Answering a pointed question by South Asia Times (SAT) about the Carona vaccine patent issue, Mr. Shorten said once in a generation we should not just be looking after profits of multinationals and share our knowledge more widely. What we need to do is to put “people before profits”.

BILL SHORTEN ANSWERS TO South Asia Times (SAT) questions (See Video)

About a global response to the Indian situation Mr. Shorten said, ” What happens in one country, is not happening in another country. This does not understand the nature of the virus and how you can beat it. You need to stamp out the virus everywhere.”

Gaura Travel Flight after flight: 50 unstoppable charter flights to India

Photo- Supplied

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 March 2021: Home is the best and that is where Gaura Travel makes you reach. On 19 March the mission of repatriating people back to India became stronger, Gaura Travel crossed another benchmark of operating 50 unstoppable charter flights. In collaboration with Singapore Airlines, the 50th charter flight took off on 19 March 2021 from Melbourne Airport carrying 200 people to New Delhi.

At the onset of the pandemic, Australia shut its borders to the world to fight the deadly COVID-19 virus. No one saw 2020 coming. Panic clenched people as they suddenly found themselves stranded in Australia. Gaura Travels arranged the first flight to India on 22 July 2020 from Sydney. The Gaura Travel team provided incessant support to all those on that flight leading to a seamless journey.

Photos- Supplied

On 5th February 2021 after 8 months of sheer hard work and courage, Gaura Travel accomplished the milestone of reuniting 10,000 families. Statistically, 18,000 passengers flew out of Melbourne: 15,000 by chartered flights and 3,000 under Vande Bharat Mission with Air India flying 17 sorties. From the 15,000, Gaura Travel accounted for 10,000.

There was joy in the air, but the directors of Gaura Travel, Ashwini Sonthalia, and Abhishek Sonthalia, knew that more had to be done. They resonated with the longing of those stuck in India, and now are back with a bang! On 27 February 2021, Gaura Travel announced the great news of special charter flights from India to Australia!

The skies have not yet opened and Gaura Travel is continuing to unite loved ones across the seas. New flights to India are in the offing with all the love from Gaura Travel.

Video- Supplied

Is flying in India safe amid surge in coronavirus cases?


As Indians board domestic flights, protocols are being put in place to protect passengers from COVID-19. However, some travelers say they feel unsafe as rules are ignored and airlines play down health risks.

After India resumed domestic flights on May 25, aviation authorities assured the public that measures were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, as the virus has been spreading rapidly across India in recent weeks, there is growing concern that lax enforcement of safety measures will contribute to the spread of COVID-19 via the country’s air routes.

On July 6, Kolkata airport barred flights arriving from six Indian cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, until at least July 19. Authorities in the state of West Bengal, where Kolkata is located, have blamed a spike in COVID-19 cases on travelers arriving from elsewhere in India.

Read more: Can India really have a coronavirus vaccine ready by August?

One air traveler, who flew from Delhi to Kolkata in June, told DW she became very anxious after boarding a flight with many coughing passengers on board. After the flight landed, she was allowed to leave Kolkata Airport without receiving a stamp that is required to keep track of quarantined arrivals.

“I literally walked out with no checks. I was given a form on the plane, on which I had to specify passenger details. But no one collected that form at Kolkata Airport,” she told DW.

Failing to enforce protocols
On a flight from Delhi to Mumbai on June 22, a DW reporter noticed several violations of COVID-19 containment measures at both airports.

At Delhi airport, passengers waiting for flights were not adhering to the physical distancing measures demarcated on the floor with colored tape. No airport officials were there to enforce the rules.

In April, airport services manager GMR had promised local media that Delhi airport would have more personnel in place to enforce “effective social distancing.”

At the baggage screening people huddled close together, as officials rushed to screen bags. The security checkpoint was also understaffed with two to three personnel at each, insufficient for the large crowd, with people standing close together rushing to get through.

“As clearance takes longer during the pandemic, it increases the queue, leading to a rush at the security gate,” an airport official said.

Read more: Coronavirus: A new way of life for India’s elderly

At the boarding gate, people rushed to board the flight, ignoring pleas from airline personnel to maintain social distancing.

“We are finding it difficult to manage the anxiety of the travelers. It’s hard to tell them to maintain social distancing while protecting yourself at the same time. We try our best, but if the people don’t listen, what can we do?” another airport employee told DW.

After arriving at Mumbai airport, essential workers such as doctors and government officers were asked to wait in a separate line, and were allowed to leave the airport without getting a stamp certifying a 14-day quarantine.

“If you have to go in the field to work, you don’t need a stamp,” said an official.

However, when asked by DW, an airport official disagreed that government officials or essential workers were being allowed to walk out without a stamp. “We make exceptions for no one,” he said.

A spokesperson for Mumbai airport said that all domestic passengers were being screened and provided a hand stamp for observing mandatory quarantine by officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the governing civic body of Mumbai.

Air sick
Since flights restarted in India, airlines have come under scrutiny for failing to enforce safety measures. Photos of packed planes have circulated on social media, and reports of travelers testing positive for COVID-19 have made people nervous.

Airlines have tried to take precautions, such as reducing customer touchpoints, mandatory online check-in, and synthetic leather seats.

One low-cost airline provides passengers sitting in middle seats with “wrap-around gowns” and all passengers with face shields. A passenger told DW that flight attendants were limiting their movement on flights, and even discouraged people from using the toilets.

Read more: Coronavirus in India: A migrant woman’s story of survival and aspiration

Sahil Singh, a doctor at V-Medica, a clinic in Gurugram, said that passengers are more likely to get infected aboard planes than at airports.

“According to some recent studies, the virus can be airborne because of droplets in a closed space,” said Singh. “The airport is a huge space, so you can easily move away from someone if they are close to you. In a small area like a plane, the air suspension of the virus is increased.”

A Mumbai airport official told DW that authorities have taken precautions to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the air.

“The authorities have chosen to have bare minimum air conditioning at the airport, and little to no AC means that the virus won’t circulate in the air. This is causing problems for passengers as they get hot, but it is for their safety.”

Disposal of waste like used masks and protective coverings is another issue. One passenger told DW the receptacle for biohazard waste was overflowing after she arrived at Kolkata airport.

“Anyone coming in contact with an overflowing biohazard waste bin can get infected by not just the coronavirus, but other respiratory infections such as influenza. Sanitation workers can even get hepatitis B from the waste,” said Singh.

Source- DW News

Original report - dw.com