Gov't aiming to have Australians stranded overseas "home by Christmas": health minister

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-14 19:07:00|Editor: huaxia

CANBERRA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt has revealed the government's intention to have every Australian who wants to come home but stranded overseas home in time for Christmas on Dec. 25.

The minister said on Sunday that the federal government was working "constructively" with states and territories to increase the cap on international arrivals to the country, which is currently set at 4,000 per week to ease pressure on the hotel quarantine system.

The government has been urged to lift the cap after thousands of Australians stranded overseas complained that it was making it difficult to secure flights home.

"If we can lift the hotel quarantine numbers, then we can increase the number of Australians that can return home," Hunt told reporters.

"We're working very constructively with the states to that effect."

"It's something we want to ensure that every Australian who wants to come home is home by Christmas."

As of Monday afternoon, there had been 26,692 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours is 39.

The death toll has increased to 816 after seven new deaths were reported in Victoria, the hardest-hit state by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Of the new cases, Victoria confirmed 35 and there were four more cases in New South Wales (NSW).

"Within Victoria, 12 of the new cases are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 23 are under investigation," said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria on Monday.

"All of today's seven deaths are linked to known outbreaks in aged care facilities. To date, 729 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria." Enditem