Is Australia’s India flight ban based on ‘fear factor’?

With the suspension of direct flights from India – until at least 15 May – all Australian citizens have essentially been banned from entering their own country for the first time.

Image Source: Australian Government.

A Guardian analysis has revealed that India has fewer coronavirus cases per capita than either the United States or the United Kingdom during their respective Covid peaks.

This has given rise to epidemiologists questioning of why Australia has banned all flights from India?

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Image Source: Wikipedia.

The experts are pointing out that Australian government did not suspend flights from the UK and USA when they were going through their worst phase.

According to data released by the New South Wales health department, the UK and US were responsible for a greater share of overseas acquired cases in Australia.

The Guardian observes that epidemiology experts think that the ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus has not yet been deemed as concerning as the ‘UK strain’.

Image Source: Prof. Peter Collignon, ANU

Prof. Peter Collignon of the Australian National University told the Guardian that Australia “needs to rethink blanket bans”.

“I look at the numbers and I’m not sure the rates are higher in India, that the risk is all that different. We need to rethink blanket bans because I’m not sure it’s being done on a consistent basis.” 

Image Source: Prof. Mary-Louise McLaws, UNSW

Further, a comparison of infection data has led Prof. Mary-Louise McLaws at the University of New South Wales to argue the government’s ban on flights from India is likely “an act out of fear”.

According to data released by the New South Wales health department, in the four-week period ending 24 April 2021, 46% (63/137) of overseas acquired cases have been identified as having COVID-19 variants of concern (B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P1).

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Prof. McLaws has also questioned why a flight ban was not put in place when larger spikes were recorded in other countries.

“As a multicultural country that loves their multicultural community, it is beholden to the authorities to care for that multicultural community that needs to come home and for them to come home safely.” 

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Indian community gathered at Federation Square to hold a candlelight vigil.

Image Source: The Australia Today.

Indians from all faiths gathered to pray for India and safe return of Australian permanent residents and citizens from India.