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What a former high commissioner thinks is behind surging COVID-19 cases in India

Ross and Russel
Article image for What a former high commissioner thinks is behind surging COVID-19 cases in India

A former high commissioner to India says Australia has an “obligation” to help the South Asian country battle COVID-19, and Aussies stranded there must be brought home.

For five consecutive days, India has set new global records for the most COVID-19 cases recorded in a 24-hour period.

On Monday, there were more than 350,000 new cases.

John McCarthy, who served as high commissioner to India from 2004 to 2009, says several factors have contributed to the surge in cases.

“There’s a suggestion that certain Indian young people, and it’s a young population, got careless,” he told Ross and Russel.

“The government could have done more to help stop the spread.

“It allowed political rallies to go ahead … and it allowed huge Hindu gatherings to go ahead at the beginning of the year.”

Mr McCarthy says Australia, and other countries in the position to do so, must help.

“It’s a country the circumstances of which are considerably tougher than ours,” he told Ross and Russel.

“My view, anyway, is we have some obligation to assist them.

“If you get contributions from the United States … the major European countries, Australia, Canada, etcetera, it is going to help to some degree.

“The Indians have asked for help, which they don’t like to do.”

Australia may soon ban flights arriving from India, with the National Security Committee to meet today to discuss whether tougher border restrictions are needed.

But Mr McCarthy says repatriating Australians stranded in India should be a matter of urgency.

“The people who want to come home are Australian citizens and we have the capacity, if we try, to give them quarantine when they come,” he said.

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