New Delhi: As India continues to witnesses a rise in COVID cases, the Australian government has banned its residents and citizens who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return home from entering Australia. The country has also ordered the imposition of a fine and five years of jail for those who disobey the law.
The temporary emergency determination, issued late on Friday, is the first time Australia has made it a criminal offense for its citizens to return home, International media reported.
The move is part of strict measures to stop travelers to Australia from the world’s second-most populous nation as it contends with a surge in COVID cases and deaths.
The restrictions come into effect from May 3 and breaching the ban risks civil penalties and up to five years imprisonment, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.
“The government does not make these decisions lightly,” Hunt said.” However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level.”
Meanwhile, India has hit a grim global record with 4,01,993 fresh cases and 3,523 deaths in the last 24 hours.
This is the first time that India recorded over 4 lakh cases after reporting 3 lakh daily infection for nine straight days. The country logged 1 lakh cases in a day for the first time about three weeks ago.
The Supreme Court on Friday warned action against states for clampdown on information or citizens sharing grievances on social media. “If citizens communicate their grievances on social media, we do not want clampdown on information. We will treat this as contempt if any citizen is harassed if they want bed or oxygen,” Justice DY Chandrachud said during a hearing.
The third phase of vaccination for those in the age group of 18-44 years starts today even as several states – Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh – have said they’re running low on stocks. The government, however, has countered them saying 1 crore doses are still available with the states.
Meanwhile, the United States and Australia have restricted travel from India amid Covid surge. Australia has even warned of a five-year jail term for those defying the new rule.
On Friday, GoI granted emergency financial powers to armed forces to augment their efforts in the battle against COVID-19. These new powers will help them operate facilities, procure equipment and resources, and perform any required urgent tasks.
India’s coronavirus cases may peak next week between May 3 and 5, according to a mathematical model of a team of scientists advising the government, news agency Reuters reported.
“Our belief is that by next week, the daily new cases nationwide would have peaked,” M Vidyasagar, head of a government-appointed group of scientists modelling the trajectory of infections, told Reuters.
Many experts have attributed the spike in cases to the mega Kumbh mela that ended Friday. Over 70 lakh people took part in the religious festival, government data has shown.