United States tells citizens to leave India as Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals

United States tells citizens to leave India as Covid-19 overwhelms hospitals

Australia on Tuesday announced a temporary ban on direct passenger flights from India following a massive surge in coronavirus infections.

The penalties could include facing up to five years in prison or a $66,000 fine.

By exercising the law, the Australian government could possibly lay down a provision of five years of imprisonment or a fine of 66,000 Australian dollars (nearly Rs 38 lakh) if a flier enters the country and have been in India in the last two weeks, according to 9News Australia.

It's estimated there are more than 9,000 Australian citizens and residents in India at the moment.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya had "observed the dire events in India. and resolved to suspend all passenger flights in and out of the country for a period of 14 days".

In a statement Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the National Cabinet "expressed solidarity with the Indian community", both in Australia and overseas. The quarantine system has largely helped Australia to keep its Covid-19 numbers relatively low, with just under 29,700 cases and 910 deaths.

Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt said bringing Australians home would be a "top priority" - but with the situation in India only getting worse it is believed that could take months.

The Federal Government is anxious that arrivals from India are putting Australia's strict quarantine system at risk.

Australia had already paused flights from India due to the soaring number of Covid infections, however some people were allowed to travel to Australia after transitioning through Qatar's capital Doha.

"India, there needs to be a suspension", Premier Mark McGowan told reporters in Perth, ahead of the federal government's decision. It's intensified calls for more to be done to get Australians home, reports the BBC's Frances Mao from Sydney.

India recorded 360,960 new infections in the last 24 hours, the largest in a single day taking the country's tally of infections to almost 18 million.

On Thursday 3,498 people died in India from Covid-19, at the end of a horror week where daily deaths averaged over 3,000.

More than 150 overseas-acquired cases have been reported across the country in the past week, many from India.

The ministry said it had agreed with India to send emergency medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protective equipment.

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