Australians stranded in Zimbabwe and stranded in quarantine after Omicron’s travel ban in southern Africa
Australians stranded abroad after the government ban on flights from southern African countries are calling for repatriation flights to be organized to bring them home.
- Australia has banned travel from nine southern African countries over Omicron fears
- There are no new government-facilitated flights scheduled from South Africa
- Australians who rushed in are quarantined at the hotel, but will not be required to pay for their stay
Sydney lawyer Debbie Anderson traveled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, on Saturday last week to bring her elderly mother back to Australia.
While its plane was in the air, Australia closed its borders to travelers from eight southern African countries, including Zimbabwe, and its return flights were canceled.
“My brother recently passed away in Zimbabwe so my mother is alone,” said Ms Anderson.
âIt’s just a pretty emotional time because of that, and then the layering of uncertainty is awful.
Her mother Sheila Lazarus is 85 years old and resides in Australia. Ms Anderson had hoped to spend two weeks there to disperse her brother’s ashes and help pack her mother’s life in Zimbabwe.
Her husband and daughters in Sydney fear she will not be home for Christmas after Ms Anderson has had flights repeatedly canceled.
“It’s great for the government to say that Australians and residents can come back, but there is no way for us to come back. We have tried everything,” she said.
“No one wants to get sick or spread disease, but you want to be able to go home.”
Ms Anderson added that African countries tend to be lumped together in one basket, but pointed out that her mother’s town in Zimbabwe is leading the country on immunization and said Zimbabwe has also imposed controls at the borders due to Omicron.
The Australian government has said border security measures are on the basis of medical advice and as a precautionary measure to protect Australians of the Omicron variant.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said a government-facilitated flight arrived in Howard Springs from Johannesburg on November 25 with 20 passengers on board.
“We continue to monitor the demand for government-facilitated commercial flights.”
The ABC understands that government-facilitated flights are scheduled to depart Singapore and Islamabad in December.
“I just think the government should think about the repercussions of what it has done, and not just leave people stranded,” said Ms. Anderson.
Mourning Australians stranded in hotel quarantine
Several Australians now stranded in a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine had traveled to South Africa for pressing family reasons, including saying goodbye to their loved ones from whom they had been separated for almost two years.
A man, who asked to remain anonymous, told the ABC he flew to South Africa to visit his dying mother.
When he saw the UK closing its border, he rushed to get a flight from South Africa on November 26.
Her mother died the next day. He couldn’t be there for his last moments.
He said he wanted an explanation from the NSW government as he had traveled on assurances from Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet that hotel quarantine would be a ‘thing of the past’ for travelers. fully vaccinated.
He said he was frustrated by the âknee-jerk reactionâ of countries closing their borders when there was still so little information on the new variant.
He added that health experts have pointed out that vaccines may not prevent people from catching the virus, but are designed to prevent serious illnesses and avoid overloading the health care system.
A woman, Vee, flew to South Africa after her mother suffered an aneurysm in August. Her mother remains in a coma.
Vee said she traveled to help her father, who suffers from dementia early in life, and to organize her mother’s hospice care.
âI couldn’t go earlier, due to the quarantine requirements and the costs involved, and not being able to afford it as a single mom,â she said.
“My dad is really strugglingâ¦ I was trying to get him to accept that my mom wouldn’t wake up anymore.”
While in South Africa, she woke up to find 53 messages on her phone from family and friends – the UK had closed its borders and other countries were following suit.
She rushed home to Australia, where her three children live, and now faces quarantine isolation at the hotel.
But, she added, she was grateful to the staff who were “putting their lives at risk” by testing potential patients with COVID-19.
“It really has an effect on my mental health,” she said, describing midlife as “not only a physical but also a mental prison.”
Vee said she and other travelers from South Africa were isolated from other passengers at Singapore airport, but her flight to Australia was crowded and she sat next to travelers from Europe and Asia, who weren’t required to self-quarantine like she was.
Travelers caught off guard by a rule change will not be charged for the quarantine
Vee said a major concern was the lack of clarity on whether they would be charged for the hotel’s mandatory quarantine.
Authorities in NSW and Victoria said those caught off guard by the sudden changes would not have to pay for the quarantine.
“People who were in transit when the new public health orders were introduced and who were unaware of the quarantine requirements will not be charged,” a spokesperson for the New Wales Department told the ABC. South and Cabinet.
âArrangements for future arrivals are being studied and will be communicated to travelers. “
In Victoria, international travelers from an “extreme risk” country who enter a hotel quarantine between 11.59pm on Saturday, November 27th and 11.59pm on Saturday, December 4th will not be charged.
Cecil Bass, a registered migration agent in Sydney, said many of his clients were stranded and desperate.
They included a British family who traveled through South Africa to settle permanently in Australia and are now stranded there.
Her nephew, an Australian permanent resident, was due to leave South Africa on Wednesday, but his flight was canceled.
He said he was not criticizing the government, but felt that South Africa had been treated unfairly after the emergence of the Omicron variant.
“It disrupted people’s lives,” said Mr. Bass.
“There is a lot of sadness among South Africans, especially at this time of year when they should be together.”