Australia

Coronavirus rescue flights secured for Australians stranded in Peru, Argentina and South Africa

Qantas has struck a deal with the federal government to offer an additional three coronavirus rescue flights. Source: AAP

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has announced three flights from Peru, Argentina and South Africa to bring Australians home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Australians stranded in Peru, Argentina and South Africa will have the chance to come home on three more coronavirus rescue flights.

The federal government has struck a deal with Qantas on the flights, which are expected to happen in the next week.

A further 280 Australians are on a flight from Peru on Thursday in a separate government-organised rescue.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says Australia is looking at similar flights from India and the Philippines to bring more citizens home during the global pandemic.

"We are getting Australians home, we are harnessing our relationships overseas, we are leveraging our fantastic network," Senator Payne said on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, flights from Nepal and Cambodia brought people back to Australia.

There are thousands of Australians in India where strict border closures are hampering the efforts of people to get out.

Senator Payne said Australia was looking at options for a commercial charter flight through ongoing talks with the Indian government, which has enforced lockdowns.

"We thought we had made some headway earlier in the week but that did not progress, so we are continuing to do that," she said.

Australians overseas have been told they must pay their own way home, with a seat on the flight from Peru costing $2,550 a person.

Other countries are subsidising return journeys but Senator Payne signalled commercial rates would still apply for Australians.

"Where there is a real difficulty for Australians to afford those flights, we have encouraged them to engage with friends and family for the purposes of that process," she said.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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