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Half of repatriation flight from India unable to board after COVID tests

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Dozens of Australians have been blocked from returning home from India after 40 people test positive to coronavirus.

Nearly half of the 150 passengers scheduled to leave on the first repatriation flight out of India will not be allowed on the plane due to COVID-19 test results.

Of the planned passenger group, 72 were banned from the flight home to Australia after 48 tested positive for coronavirus.

The other 24 were family members of positive cases and deemed close contacts.

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High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell said it was tragic for those who were set to be on Australian soil by tomorrow.

"This is a tragedy for them today, and equally for their families in Australia," Mr O'Farrell said.

"We're in the middle of a COVID crisis here in India and it takes 24 hours at least to get the results of a COVID test, so the likelihood of people quickly taking places on the plane is harder than it seems."

Akriti Gupta from Melbourne is another passenger hoping to have her results cleared so she can board the plane.

"We are booked for the flight tonight and we are waiting for our COVID results," Ms Gupta told 9News.

"It's very heartbreaking because people here have already quarantined for three days in Delhi and have already said goodbye to their families."

The first repatriation flight is due to leave New Delhi after the ban on returned travellers was lifted today.

The positive diagnoses mean they will be stuck in India until they recover.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are working to fill the flight with more passengers but the obstacle of 48-hour pre-flight testing will make this difficult.

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The plane has departed Darwin, bringing valuable medical supplies to India, and is set to return to Australia tomorrow with the passengers who have been allowed to board.

They are due to spend quarantine at a facility in Howard Springs in the Northern Territory.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said tomorrow's flight will bring the total number of repatriation flights from India to 39.

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"These government-facilitated flights will be focused on returning Australian citizens, residents and families who have registered with our high Commission and consular offices within India and will prioritise the most vulnerable people," Ms Payne said.

The next government repatriation flight from India is expected to arrive in Darwin on May 23.

Arrangements for further facilitated flights into Australia are underway.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/australians-testing-positive-coronavirus-covid19-india-repatriation-flight/721da376-5181-44df-afa8-f860680941ea

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