Australia is imposing fines of up to $66,000 if its citizens fly home from India amid a massive spike in coronavirus cases in the South Asian country.
Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Saturday that the government is issuing a temporary pause on travelers from India if the person has been in India for 14 days.
According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation, those that violate the ban could face up to a $66,000 fine (over $50,000 U.S.), five years in prison or both.
“The Government does not make these decisions lightly,” Hunt said in a statement. “However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level.”
The pause will go into effect on May 3, and will be reconsidered on May 15, Hunt said.
The measure comes as India grapples with a massive surge in coronavirus infections. The nation became the fourth in the world to surpass 200,000 cumulative coronavirus deaths behind Mexico, Brazil and the United States.
India incurred a grim record of 400,000 new daily infections for the first time, after new daily cases surpassed 300,000 for 10 consecutive days. The nation on Saturday opened COVID-19 vaccinations to all adults.
According to Johns Hopkins University, India has recorded over 19 million coronavirus infections since the pandemic began and 211, 853 total deaths.
Hunt said that Australia has agreed to provide emergency media supplies, including 1,000 non-invasive ventilators, and has offered a “significant package” of personal protective equipment, including surgical masks, gowns, goggles, gloves and face shields.
The United States on Thursday began distributing over $100 million in aid to the country, including oxygen supplies, tests and vaccine materials, and will restrict travel from India starting May 4.