A medical staff wearing a facemask poses in an isolation ward at a newly inaugurated hospital by the Tamil Nadu state during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Chennai on March 27, 2020.

Morrison’s India repatriation flights a failure

Responding to the news that first repatriation flight from India having a high positive COVID test rate Amnesty International Campaigner Joel MacKay said:

“This is sadly not surprising, but it is entirely a situation of the Morrison Government’s making. Refusing repatriation is lazy policy-making – it’s much easier to leave stranded Australians behind in India than it is to do the heavy lifting to make it safe for them to come home. The Prime Minister is taking the easy way out.

“You can only imagine the heartbreak if you’re lucky enough to be allocated to one of the very few flights back to your home country, only to find that testing positive to COVID throws you on the mercy of a health system utterly failing under the weight of a pandemic out of control.

“As Amnesty has been saying for a year, the Government has an obligation under international human rights law to facilitate the return of its citizens. The Government has had a year to work out an adequate quarantine system where those who are COVID positive can receive high quality care. What good is a quarantine system that can’t house sick people?

“At this rate, all the people who desperately need to return from India won’t be repatriated for at least another four months. Not to mention all those people in other parts of the world who are still struggling to return.

“The increasingly isolationist approach of this Government is very concerning, particularly as it is in danger of breaching international law.”

Amnesty International Australia is calling on the Morrison Government to book extra repatriation flights immediately, expand the national quarantine facility, support the states and territories to expand the hotel quarantine program, and support the TRIPS waiver proposal that will see COVID-19 vaccines distributed to developing nations faster.


Australians returning from India must test negative to COVID-19 before boarding. It has been reported that at least a quarter of the people booked on the first repatriation flight out of New Delhi have tested positive with COVID-19. Including close contacts, 70 – or more than half those booked – have been refused repatriation.