Following reports of a significant drop in daily COVID cases in India, the Australian government has eased strict restrictions for travel to and from the country. However, threat of a third COVID-19 wave in India continues to loom.
Australian government on Tuesday removed India from the list of ‘high risk’ countries and withdrawn the additional restrictions imposed on travel to and from the country.
Following the announcement, Australian Border Force’s (ABF) exemption criteria for travel to and from India has now returned to global settings, equivalent to travel norms set for the rest of the world.
Temporary visa holders stuck in India
Until Tuesday’s announcement, exemption for travel to or from India could only be granted under limited circumstances because of the spread of the deadly COVID-19 wave in India that began in April, and the risk it posed to Australia where the spread of COVID-19 was under relatively beter control.
This announcement has brought much-needed respite to Australians seeking outbound and inbound travel exemptions, as well as temporary visa holders stuck in India.
Earlier, Australia had imposed a blanket ban on travel from India, which carried the risk of criminal action including five years of imprisonment and fines of up to $66,000 for individuals defying the restrictions imposed.
India’s COVID-19 situation
India appears to have reverses its dramatic Covid-19 crisis, with daily cases dropping below 40,000 in recent days compared to caseloads of over 400,000 reported in May during the pandemic’s peak, but the authorities remain on alert to the possibility of another surge.
On Wednesday India’s health ministry reported 38,353 fresh cases, including over 21,000 infections in Kerala.
The country has reported a drastic recovery since the devastating second coronavirus wave in March and April, which saw hospitals, crematoriums and burial grounds running out of space due to the unprecedented number of patients and deaths.
According to India’s health ministry, daily COVID caseload has not crossed 50,000 for more than six weeks.
Delhi, one of the worst affected regions during the second wave, has been reporting less than 60 cases, a sharp contrast to daily caseloads crossing 25,000 three months ago.
The state of Maharashtra, which had registered over 60,000 daily cases in May, has been reporting around 5,000 cases a day. The total number of COVID-19 cases in India has gone beyond 32 million. More than 400,000 people have died of the disease so far.