Fears a HUNDRED coronavirus-infected passengers could fly into Australia from Covid-ravaged India in just two days after travel ban lifts
- First flight from India to Australia since travel ban to land in Darwin on Saturday
- There are fears the number of infected passengers could be in triple digits
- India has now recorded more than 250,000 deaths with 23.3 million infections
The Covid-19 infection rate among Australian citizens returning from India could be in the double digits when flights resume this weekend.
About 200 repatriated Australians are expected to start two weeks’ quarantine at Darwin’s Howard Springs facility once the travel ban is lifted on May 15.
They will be some of the most urgent and vulnerable cases among the 9000 Australians stranded in the coronavirus ravaged sub-continent, which has recorded more than 250,000 deaths.
Northern Territory health officials are preparing for 10 per cent of passengers on Saturday’s flight to be infected, five times more than repatriation flights from other countries.
India has suffered 250,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 and has seen 23.3 million infections to date (pictured, a family mourn at a crematorium in New Delhi on Wednesday)
About 200 repatriated Australians are expected to start two weeks’ quarantine at Darwin’s Howard Springs facility once the travel ban is lifted on May 15 (pictured, Scott Morrison at the facility in April)
Chief Minister Michael Gunner says NT Health and AUSMAT are ‘on track to handle’ any cases from India after they skyrocketed in late April and led to flights being suspended.
‘We’re genuinely carrying a heavy load for the nation,’ Mr Gunner told reporters on Thursday.
Three flights are expected to land in Darwin from India during May and early June.
That will push Howard Springs’ population to about 1,200 people, expanding to 2,000 by the end of that month.
The facility can handle about 100 positive cases, but AUSMAT and NT Health are aiming to keep that number at 50.
About 490 people are quarantining at Howard Springs.
India has been ravaged by a fatal second wave of the virus (pictured, a mother cries upon seeing her son’s body after he died from Covid-19 in New Delhi on Wednesday)
Three flights are expected to land in Darwin from India during May and early June (pictured, other passengers arriving there in October)
The number of people with coronavirus has fallen to five from more than 50 two weeks ago, with no cases linked to previous Indian repatriation flights expected by Friday.
NT Deputy Chief Health Officer Charles Payne has previously said he was confident the Territory’s health system could cope with the Indian arrivals due to new daily pre-flight coronavirus testing and a ban on positive cases travelling.
He said if the numbers of positive cases in the NT gets too high, flights from India may be paused again, but that is unlikely.
About 260 of 400 new health workers have been recruited to work at the jointly run facility, which is expected to be handed over to the Territory in June.
Asked about the prospect of another NT quarantine facility being set up in the short term, Mr Gunner said it was unlikely to happen.
The India flights will push Howard Springs’ population to about 1,200 people, expanding to 2,000 by the end of the month (pictured, other passengers arriving there in October)
‘We’ve got the Todd facility in Alice Springs, the Howard Springs facility here and the military are using the Bladin Village site, if you want to look beyond that, you need to look at other parts of the country,’ he said.
‘It’s important that others pick up that load.’
Mr Gunner said Territorians’ health and safety needed to be protected.
Royal Darwin Hospital has just two intensive care beds available for serious cases.
‘We have got arrangements with other states to shift that load from our health system if we need to and we have got the capacity to expand but it has a ripple effect,’ Mr Gunner said.
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