Letting people return to Australia from Hot Spots

First repatriation flight from India touches down with dozens left in Delhi (msn.com)

Flight QF112, a Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner from Delhi, touched down at Darwin airport just before 9am local time on Saturday, with those on board to be transferred 25 kilometres away to the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

A final tally of how many passengers managed to board the flight is not yet available but on Friday it was revealed 42 of the passengers had tested positive for coronavirus while in the mandatory three-day hotel stay in Delhi before the flight.

At least 31 of their close contacts were also barred from travelling on the mercy flight.

A group of passengers complained on Friday that many had not been given their final COVID-19 test results before the Australian government announced a large cohort would not be boarding due to positive test results.

One passenger with a ticket for the flight, who spoke anonymously for fear of losing his spot, said the group of passengers had not all been told their final test results despite the Australian government announcement.

"We heard that news and now we're very scared," he told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald from his hotel room in Delhi on Friday night.

"It's nerve-wracking because I'm pretty sure I don't have it, but I'm still stressing about it".

Another passenger, who also wished to remain anonymous, said he was now unable to travel to Australia as his wife had received a positive result just hours before the flight.

The couple had travelled more than 120 kilometres to Delhi to undertake the three-day hotel stay required for the repatriation flight. He said neither he nor his wife had any symptoms before they came to the hotel and he was concerned the virus could have spread in the hotel.

"If it could happen in Australia why could it not happen in India?" he said.

While guests are not able to leave their rooms, the man said he had to use the air conditioner for relief in the hot Indian summer weather and was worried the virus could have spread that way.

"There's no ceiling fan in here and the windows don't open," he said.

The pair will wait another two weeks, get tested again and apply to DFAT for another flight, he said.




Australia's former deputy chief medical officer has challenged doctors to smash the "false idol" of COVID-19 eradication and prepare the public for the next critical phase of the pandemic: open international borders and the return of the virus in the community.

Former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth speaks to the media during a press conference at the Australian Department of Health in Canberra, Monday, April 20, 2020.© AAP Image/Lukas Coch Former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth speaks to the media during a press conference at the Australian Department of Health in Canberra, Monday, April 20, 2020.

In a speech at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeon's annual scientific meeting, Dr Nick Coatsworth admonished a "hardcore rump of activist doctors" spreading misinformation and undermining vaccine confidence. He condemned a "rotten, but vocal, few" doctors who used social media to abuse their colleagues, administrators and politicians.

His warning came as almost half of the 150 Australians booked on the first repatriation flight from India on Friday were barred from boarding after 42 tested positive for COVID-19, forcing them and their close contacts to remain in the COVID-ravaged nation.

"We once again have a responsibility as a profession to calmly reassure the community that vaccines must be taken up when they are offered, that waiting is not a valid option either individually or for the public health, and that ultimately when we allow COVID-19 back on our shores and it circulates in our community, that we are prepared and comfortable for that to happen," said the infectious disease physician - one of the Commonwealth government's most prominent public health spokespeople throughout 2020.

"I know that will make some, maybe most, in this room and online today uncomfortable."

On Friday, health security experts warned large numbers of Australians wanting to board repatriation flights will test positive for COVID-19 and the federal government had a duty to implement strategies to bring them home regardless.

One passenger with a ticket booked on the first flight from India to Australia since the travel ban, who spoke anonymously for fear of losing his spot, said not all passengers had been told their final test results.

"We heard that news [that 40 passengers had tested positive] and now we're very scared," the passenger said from his hotel room in Delhi.

"It's nerve-racking because I'm pretty sure I don't have it, but I'm still stressing about it."

Pandemic planning and global health security expert Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott said both the federal and state governments had a moral responsibility to let all stranded citizens return.

"We should be bringing them home, full stop," he said. "The risk is that they will succumb to the illness and die."

The government halted all direct and repatriation flights from India at the end of April in response to a third wave of coronavirus that overwhelmed the country's health systems.

Dr Coatsworth, in his speech on Thursday night, said Australians had to come to terms with the fact that Australia cannot ride out the COVID-19 pandemic "in an eliminationist bunker".

"It is clear we will not have our borders closed indefinitely. We will not have quarantine stations in perpetuity whilst we aim for the false idol of eradication," said Dr Coatsworth, speaking in a personal capacity.

"At a point in the future when a significant majority of our community is vaccinated, there will be pressure to open our borders. We must not resist that. In fact, when the time is right, we should be leading the calls for it."

Dr Coatsworth told this masthead on Friday that Australia must decide what the tipping point will be to emerge from isolation.

"It's going to be difficult as a nation because we are so comfortable at the moment because we did so well in restricting the numbers [of COVID-19 cases]," he said.

"What vaccination coverage would the government accept, and would the medical profession suggest, is adequate for opening borders? We don't know that and I think we need to be honest about that."

The federal government has indicated international borders could be opened in the first half of 2022 when its projections suggest the majority of the population will be fully vaccinated.

"The [medical] profession can help the community have a stronger, higher appetite for risk by reassuring them of the effectiveness of the vaccine, the importance of getting vaccinated and the [benefits] of having a vaccinated immune population," Dr Coatsworth said.

"There are a hard core rump of activist doctors who have been anti-AstraZeneca since the start of this year, misquoting and misrepresenting the phase 3 trial data ... and in my view substantially undermining the national program", Dr Coatsworth said.

"We were sort of primed already as a community to think that Pfizer was the better vaccine by some prominent voices in the media, and the reality was that was a misrepresentation of the data."

"The thing that really troubled me was that the ability for the public to cope with the messaging around [the rare blood clot syndrome linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine] has been rendered significantly more challenging in light of the misinformation campaign waged in January and February by these individuals."

Many of these individuals, whom Dr Coatsworth chose not to name, had also co-opted the lingo of climate change politics to wage a "phoney war" over aerosol transmission of COVID-19 by calling senior medical leaders airborne transmission "deniers", Dr Coatsworth said.

He condemned a "rotten, but vocal, few" doctors who used Twitter to abuse their colleagues, administrators and politicians.

"That is not advocacy, it is not policy debate, it is narcissism thinly cloaked as activism," he said.

Dr Coatsworth told this masthead he did not expect doctors to fall in line regardless of their hesitations.

"The fact that there are clinicians out there who want to have a voice is absolutely fine, but there is a big difference between someone who has a medical degree in a particular sub-specialty to our top vaccination experts. But from the public's perspective it's difficult to differentiate those voices," he said.




What the UK are up to with this Indian Variant, we certainly don't need it in Australia.


Boris Johnson warns lockdown lifting in June could be STOPPED over Indian variant fears | Daily Mail Online





Delay in shutting Britain's borders with India was 'reckless, misguided and dangerous', say critics 

Boris Johnson was last night accused of being 'reckless, misguided and dangerous' for not shutting Britain's borders with India earlier after four people died from the new Indian covid strain.

The country was only added to the UK's travel 'red list' late last month, despite earlier concerns over transmission of the fast-growing variant, which has since made its way onto British shores.  

Some have suggested that Prime Minister was keen to keep relations strong with India, having planned a visit - which subsequently had to be cancelled - as part of efforts to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal.

As a result, while flights were banned from neighbouring Pakistan early last month, borders between the two countries remained open for two more weeks, with as many as 8,000 people from India jetting into Britain on daily flights across that fortnight.

Data then shows 122 passengers entering the country from New Delhi and Mumbai between late March and April 26 were carrying the variant.

The opposition is now piling pressure on Mr Johnson after it was revealed this morning that the Indian strain has killed four people in Britain between May 5 and 12, 

Labour's Deputy Leader Angela Rayner tweeted tonight: 'Boris Johnson's decision to yet again refuse to learn from his mistakes and leave the borders open to arrivals from India without hotel quarantine is looking more and more reckless, misguided and dangerous by the hour.'

Layla Moran, the Lib Dem MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, added: 'Boris Johnson must take responsibility for the failure to prevent the Indian variant taking root in the UK.

'Once again the Government acted too late, and the country is sadly paying the price.'

However, the PM used his Downing Street press conference this evening to defend not shutting down travel sooner, saying that between March and April the South Africa variant was of greater concern than the India variant.'

Returning Australians should be made welcome and made isolate in proper quarantine centers away from the general public until they have been cleared.

They made a decision to leave Australia against do not travel advice, and go to a country that was already in trouble. They stay for months and then whinge and moan they can't get back! Well boo hoo to them!

They are wholly responsible for their own decisions and their choices have consequences.

When Australians could not cross state borders for sick relatives, funerals, health care, weddings and other family events, what makes these travellers think they are so much more special? They had little regard for the Government or other Australians when they chose to leave after March 2020 when borders closed. Now they 'demand' the Government brings them 'home'! Sorry no sympathy for them at all.

The people who deserve our compassion and as much help as we can offer are the people in India who truly are in dire straits with an overwhelmed health system, lack of personal resources to afford medical treatment even if it were widely available and with nowhere else to run, health professionals doing their very best to provide care when they don't have the most basic PPE or medications including oxygen and a Government more intent on holding rallies winning an election than fighting this insidious virus. They deserve our compassion, not the selfish whiny Australians who put themselves in danger and now expect the rest of Australia to bail them out.

You're very close to the mark KSS. Thank god there are still some non Namby-Pamby still alive and hopefully well. Jacka.

There should be nobody returning from overseas to Australia. If you're stupid or selfish enough to make the decision go overseas, stay there and don't and endanger the lives of your fellow Australians. These so called Australians, granted citizenship 2 minutes after they arrived here, which in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous, they should have to do at least a five year good behaviour probation period, spend 6 months in their country of origin and six months in Australia, not all, but a lot. No doubt there some financial benefit there. There only too  happy to leave their country of origin which they helped to stuff in most cases and come to Australia and proceed to stuff it. Constantly complaining about their treatment in this great land, protesting in our Australian streets about issues in their own country and others which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Australia. If they're serious about it, stay home and fight, don't run away. Yet, their first with their hands out to collect every benefit known to man, given to them by the so-called Government but but in fact by the Australian tax payer. No, look after the welfare of Australia and Australian. As previously stated, if you wish to travel, go ahead, but don't come back until this scourge has been eradicated or your time on this Earth expires. Jacka.  Australia And Australians FIRST.


It's very easy to become a little blasé about COVID-19 because of how Australia has not experienced what a lot of other countries have. Governments, both federal and state, have made decisions to keep the virus under control and although, sadly, there have been a number of deaths, they pale into insignificance compared with other countries. Contrary to some media reports, Australians are not being denied entry. They are having applications to enter deferred until it can be shown, as much as is possible, that the threat of COVID-19 will not be brought in to infect Australians who have not travelled. I have no issues with the government keeping its citizens safe.

I have no issues with the government keeping its citizens safe.

Neither do I.


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