Closing the country’s doors to its own nationals is a step that Australia has never taken since the start of the pandemic despite the closure of its international borders in March 2020. “We cannot prevent Australians from returning home”, had always defended the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. On Monday, May 3, the government changed its tune.
Faced with the serious deterioration of the health situation in India, he banned entry into the national territory, until May 15, any person who had stayed in this country during the fourteen days preceding his trip, including its 9,000 citizens. currently stranded in place. Violators face a fine of 66,600 Australian dollars (42,800 euros) and five years in prison.
“The government is not taking this decision lightly but it is crucial to preserve the integrity of Australian public health and its quarantine system which has reduced the number of Covid cases to an acceptable level”, justified, Friday, the Minister of Health, Greg Hunt. For more than a year, anyone arriving on the island-continent has been placed in quarantine in a hotel. At the end of April, the number of positive cases recorded in these structures jumped from 90 to 143 cases in one week. Among the sick, 57% returned from India against only 10% in March. A significant increase in the number of infected individuals synonymous with an increased risk of the epidemic spreading.
Only 910 dead
In mid-April, one of them passed SARS-CoV-2 to other travelers at a hotel in the city of Perth, Western Australia. Local Premier Mark McGowan, who immediately ordered a three-day lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the state, accused the federal government of allowing too many nationals to return from this high-risk area. Since the start of the pandemic, thanks to a “zero Covid” strategy, Australia has deplored less than 30,000 cases and only 910 deaths. The coronavirus has almost disappeared from the country. But, in recent months, following the appearance of new, more contagious variants, the authorities have had to contain a dozen “leaks” from these hotel establishments. As of April 27, they suspended flights from India before extending the restriction measures to all travelers from the country.
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