Australia could impose a ban on all flights from India as the country struggles to contain a major COVID catastrophe.
The number of COVID cases being recorded in India has hit 350,000 a day with the country’s health system unable to cope with the pressure.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday a 30 per cent reduction in flights from India following a meeting of the National Cabinet.
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But a meeting of the National Security Committee of Cabinet on Tuesday is expected to go further, with a potential ban on all flights to be considered or further travel restrictions.
A total ban would be a further blow to the thousands of Australians still trying to get home from the sub-continent.
It’s estimated there are still around 8000 Australians in India attempting to return.
Dozens of Australian cricketers are also in India taking part in the Indian Premier League, with some already deciding to leave immediately.
The National Security Committee will also discuss what aid Australia can provide to India with the country desperately short of ventilators and oxygen.
“India is literally gasping for oxygen,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Monday.
“And whilst we can assist with the national medical stockpile, their particular request is for assistance with regards to the physical supply of oxygen. And that will be one of the things we’re looking at, in particular with the states.”
The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany have also agreed to send much-needed medical supplies to India.
The crisis in the country has also strengthened calls in Australia for changes to our quarantine system with state leaders calling on the Federal Government to look at alternatives to using hotels in major cities.
WA Premier Mark McGowan urged the Federal Government to look at facilities like the detention centre on Christmas Island.
It follows a three-day lockdown in Perth, sparked by a man who had recently returned from a wedding in India.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has supported moves to suspend flights from India while also backing calls for a rethink on quarantine.
Ms Palaszczuk has been pushing Canberra to agree to set up a purpose-built quarantine facility in Toowoomba.
“I’m at my wit’s end here because I have been calling for this. The facility in Toowoomba would have been built by now,” she told Seven.
“All we are asking from the fed govt is to say a simple ‘yes or no, will you allow international flights to land into Well Camp’.
The facility is built right next to the airport, there is no risk to the community.”