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Australians returning from India could face up to five years in prison

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Australia has a temporary prohibit its citizens from returning from India.

The pause for the admission of passengers who were in India within 14 days of arrival will take effect on Monday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in an email. Violations of the ban could result in a fine of A $ 66,600 ($ 51,000), five years in prison, or both.

The world's biggest crisis, Covid, threatens Modi's grip with India

Health workers diverted a vehicle at the main entrance of a hospital in New Delhi on April 25.

Photographer: T. Narayan / Bloomberg

As virus cases increase in countries such as India, there are fears that Australia’s quarantine system will face more travelers returning with positive results. As the nation approaches the elimination of local transmission of the virus by closing its international border to non-residents – other than a new travel bubble with New Zealand – random cases are leaking into the community from quarantine hotels.

“The risk assessment that informs the decision is based on the proportion of overseas quarantine passengers in Australia who have acquired Covid-19 infection in India,” Hunt said.

Australia on Tuesday ban all flights from India at least until May 15, but it was still possible to fly through third country. The new measure aims to close this loophole and will be reviewed on May 15th.

The country’s cabinet will focus on repatriating vulnerable Australians from India, with special flights starting as soon as possible after May 15, Hunt told a news conference on Friday.

(Updates with repatriation flights in the last paragraph)

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