At least 40 infected passengers barred from boarding Australia repatriation flightWorld | 14 May 2021 3:14 pm
Nearly half the 150 passengers booked on Australia's first repatriation flight from India were barred from boarding on Friday, after they or their close contacts tested positive for the coronavirus, an Australian government source said, Reuters.
Tests have returned positive results for at least 40 passengers, or about 26 percent of the total, said the source, who sought anonymity as he was not allowed to speak to media, a figure much higher than the 3.5 percent seen in March.
By late afternoon, Australian media said that number was rising, with 9News and Sky reporting 48 infections and about 25 close contacts. Reuters was unable to verify that information.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) did not immediately respond to request for comment from Reuters. Qantas , which is operating the flights on behalf of DFAT, directed queries to the government.
It is not yet clear if authorities had a stand-by list of passengers for the rest of the nearly 9,000 Australians and permanent residents looking to get home from coronavirus-ravaged India.
Media said DFAT was trying to accommodate other passengers but the requirement of two negative test results in order to board was making that difficult.