The second repatriation flight from India has landed in Darwin with 165 Australians on board, who will now spend 14 days in quarantine in the Howard Springs facility.
The latest repatriation flight from India landed on Australian soil over the weekend, bringing 165 Aussies back home; the maximum number of passengers the aircraft can carry with COVID-safe capacity limits.
The flight left New Delhi late on Saturday and was the second such government-facilitated flight since the ban on arrivals from India was lifted.
The first was marred by a huge number of positive COVID-19 results, leaving just 80 of the 150 seats filled.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is prioritising passengers who were barred from boarding the previous flight due to a positive test for future flights.
According to a DFAT spokesperson, all passengers who were unable to board last week’s plane had been contacted to arrange their return flight.
What else is going on?
Eight flights are scheduled before June 4, with NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland volunteering to take returning Australians.
Of the 11,200 Australians in India registered with the government as wanting to return, about 1000 are considered vulnerable.
Meanwhile, Australia is set to pass 500,000 COVID-19 vaccinations in a week for the first time as the Morrison government continues to press the case for people to get the jab as soon as they are eligible.
Over 50s have been able to get an AstraZeneca jab over the past couple of weeks, although there are concerns some may wait until later in the year for a Pfizer dose when 20 million arrive over the fourth quarter.
“We do not want anybody to wait. Do not wait to be vaccinated if you are eligible,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters from Melbourne.
“Please come forward and if you are not vaccinated, and you catch COVID, you could die. It’s as simple as that.”
Qantas boss Alan Joyce last week said Australia’s vaccine rollout feels like it’s moving slower than it should and higher rates of take-up may allow borders to open by the end of the year.
The airline boss said authorities had done a great job keeping Australians safe during the pandemic but called for extra effort to encourage COVID-19 jab.
“Imagine if we put the same focus on the vaccine rollout,” he told a media conference.
“Opening by the end of the year seems very achievable under those circumstances.”
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