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Australian citizens may land in jail if they return from India


The second COVID wave and the havoc it exerts on India dared Australia to ban its citizens returning from India. The government has issued an order penalising those citizens who are returning to the country from India defying the order.

The health ministry said that anyone who attempts to enter the country defying the new rule would be penalised with a fine of 66,600 dollars or five years in prison, terming the rule as "drastic", reports The Guardian.

The regulations, powered by the Biosecurity Act in the country, will come into effect from May 3rd and be reviewed only on May 15th.

According to a statement by the Australian government, the country's chief medical officer had assessed that India is the first to meet the threshold of a high-risk country.

"The government does not make these decisions lightly," Health Minister Greg Hunt said. "However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected, and the number of Covid-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level."

The rule was implemented following two Australian cricketers' return to the country. Australia had banned directed flights from India last week, given the severe pandemic situation in the latter; the cricketers had taken their flight through Qatar. The government said that they would critically monitor the air travellers and take serious actions to ensure that passengers are not circumventing the restrictions.

The Australian government reiterated that they are acting on the medical advice provided for them since India is facing a dire situation. The Biosecurity regulations give the country powers to determine any necessary requirement to prevent entry or spread of the virus. A covid cluster was recently reported at Perth by an infected man who had returned from India after a wedding.

Now, Australia's act of suspending direct commercial flights from India had stranded some 9,000 Australian citizens who have registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

While India is staggering under the severe pandemic outlash even from the beginning of the breakout, nearly 20,000 people had already returned to Australia since March 2020.

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