Next India repatriation flight lands in Darwin as Howard Springs surpasses 1,000 in quarantine

A Qantas plane evacuating Australians from India has landed in Darwin – the third to arrive in the capital Top End since repatriation flights resumed from the COVID-ravaged country a fortnight ago.

Flight QF112 from New Delhi touched down at Darwin Airport around 9.45am local time carrying 150 people

Passengers will soon be transported by bus to the Howard Springs quarantine facility, about 12 miles southeast of the airport.

About 80 passengers who arrived in Darwin from India on May 15, on the first flight after the temporary suspension, completed their two-week quarantine period on Saturday.

Another 165 who arrived on a May 23 flight are still at the facility, along with nearly 1,000 other international and domestic arrivals.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said she was unsure whether any passengers supposed to take today’s flight tested positive for COVID-19 before departure.

About 70 passengers who were scheduled to board the May 15 flight were evicted after testing positive for COVID-19 or being close contacts of those who did.

Following the introduction of the more stringent testing regime, only two passengers tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Darwin.

“The pre-departure measures DFAT put in place clearly worked when you compare that to the previous flight when we had over 50 people (test positive),” Ms. Fyles said.

“So we will continue to assess what has been done and how we see these numbers come to fruition.”

Ms Fyles said more international repatriation flights are expected to arrive in Darwin this week.

“[International arrivals] will be kept very separate from these people in domestic quarantine, ”she said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there had been six repatriation flights from the subcontinent since the temporary hiatus, three of which arrived in Darwin and three more that took passengers to other capitals.

“New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have agreed to help by receiving passengers from India,” a DFAT spokesperson said.

“This state support will significantly increase the number of facilitated commercial flights, with eight flights scheduled by June 4 and more to follow.

As of March 2020, the spokesperson said more than 20,500 Australians registered with DFAT had returned from India, of whom nearly 7,000 were directly assisted on 42 facilitated flights from India.

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