Sydney, May 3
Australia on Monday defended its decision to penalise its own citizens entering the country within two weeks of being in Covid-ravaged India, saying it had “strong, clear and absolute” belief the move was legal.
Health Minister Greg Hunt pointed to the alarming surge of Covid cases in India and the pressure on Australia’s health system as reasons to pause travel until May 15. Australia’s quarantine hotels have seen a 1,500% spike in Covid cases from India since March, raising questions about pre-departure testing in India and leading to this “agonising decision,” Hunt said.
Taiwan latest to bar arrivals from India
- Taipei: Taiwan on Monday became the latest nation to ban arrivals from India
- The move comes after the Indian variant reached at least 17 countries. Reuters
“It’s a high-risk situation in India,” Hunt told a televised news briefing in Melbourne.
The Australian Human Rights Commission lambasted the decision, urging lawmakers to immediately review the restrictions. The Commision will approach the government directly with its concerns, it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Australia has expanded its Covid vaccine eligibility to include all people 50 and older. Until Monday, eligibility had been limited, in most cases, to people 70 and older, as well as those with frontline jobs or medical conditions. Health authorities say AstraZeneca shots for those 50 and older will be available immediately at special clinics, although people will have to wait another couple of weeks before they can get the shots at the clinics of their regular doctors. About 2.3 million vaccine doses have been administered among Australia’s population of 26 million. — Agencies