Australia stepping in to provide initial help to India

By Our Reporter
Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Australia is providing an initial package to India. “There will be more to follow, of support and to deliver this as soon as possible. 509 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves, and 20,000 face shields,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday.

Australia has also agreed to commence procurement of 100 oxygen concentrators, along with tanks and consumables.

Morrison on Wednesday met the National Security Committee to particularly address the situation in India and the terrible humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in there

“We recognise that this has been a very significant outbreak in India and we know for Australians who have family in India at this time that they will be very distressed. From the scenes we are seeing from India, they are truly heartbreaking. India is a great friend of Australia and a comprehensive strategic partner. We share so much in common as peoples, as democratic nations, and we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences and our support to the nation of India and the people of India and the Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister Modi. They are dear friends of Australia and we will stand with them during this terrible crisis and for all Australians who are caught up in this terrible set of events,” Morrison said in an official statement.

“The number of cases continues to increase. 325,000 new COVID cases on April 25, on Anzac Day, and over 2,800 deaths. There are significant shortages of key personal protection equipment, medical equipment and oxygen supplies and a severe disruption of the production capabilities of India because of the impact of COVID on their population. Australia, by contrast, has obviously had a different experience and that places us in a unique position among many countries to lend our support to India at this time.

“India has also been determined to be a high-risk country under the process we have put in place for the purpose of travel arrangements. Not only do we need to reach out and support our friends and family and all of those across India but we also need to take appropriate steps to ensure that we, here in Australia, we have border protection arrangements upgraded, and put in place, to deal with the risks that clearly present from travel from India,” the Prime Minister said.

Australia has also decided to pause direct passenger flights between India and Australia until the 15th of May. That will be reviewed prior to that time in terms of any further extension of that pause in those arrangements.

“This will impact directly on two passenger services from India into Sydney and two repatriation flights from India to Darwin, this impacting around 500 arrivals. The passengers on all future flights, when and if these flights are resumed going forward, will be required to have both a negative PCR test and a negative rapid antigen test prior to uplift. Further flights to India will be considered prior to the 15th of May with a focus on supporting vulnerable Australians, in particular in relation to charter flights that have been put in place by the Australian Government,” Morrison said in an official statement.

“For indirect flights, that is another way that people who may have been in India would come to Australia, and already it has been announced and we are advised that indirect flights through Doha, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we are aware flights to and from these transit points and India have been paused by the respective governments. So that third country entry point into Australia has already been closed by those key embarkation points to Australia. That will obviously have impacts, in a positive way, in terms of restricting the inflow and in fact in most cases eliminating it and for places like Perth and South Australia and ports that do not have direct flights.”

The Prime Minister said the Australian Government will be reaching out through the Department of Home Affairs directly through the Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, to engage with the Australian community with Indian descent and reaching out to them, listening to them, engaging in roundtables with community leaders to keep them informed of the information that is available as well as listening to them about what they are hearing on what they are understanding of the experiences of family members and friends and other associates in India.

“It is very important we remain in close contact with them over the course of what will be a highly stressful period for those Australians who are caught up or have family members affected by this humanitarian crisis in India. And we are very keen to make sure they know that we are standing with them during what is an incredibly difficult time for them and their families and communities,” Morrison said

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