The Australian government's move to ban incoming flights from COVID-crippled India has been declared "un-Australian" as Indian Novocastrians describe losing loved ones in the country's severe outbreak.
Ajay Rana, who moved to Newcastle from India 23 years ago, received news Tuesday his aunt had died after battling coronavirus.
The president of the Indian Association of Newcastle said he didn't agree with the Australian government's ban on flights from India and threats to punish people who broke the border rules.
"I understand where they are coming from, their prime job is to protect their citizens," he said. "But people over there are citizens too and the Australian government has a responsibility to protect them.
"Taiwan and the US have banned flights from India, but their own citizens are exempt. I think it's un-Australian. The one thing that stuck out to me when I moved here was mateship. But we're not even helping our own. It's not aligned with the Australian character."
Rita Singh, who grew up in New Delhi and now operates a GP practice in Mayfield, also believed the flight ban was the wrong move.
"I think it's a bit harsh," Dr Singh said. "Get them here, quarantine them for two weeks."
The government is facing growing pressure to change its stance. Former Australian cricketer Michael Slater, who is in India to commentate on the IPL, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had blood on his hands.
"If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home," he Tweeted.
"How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system. I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect."
Dr Singh said her cousin's 52-year-old wife died on Monday night as the hospital she was in didn't have enough oxygen.
"He is a very high ranking police officer who could get his wife into the best hospital - it's not just the slums this is affecting," she said. "They just don't have enough oxygen."
After hearing the terrible news, Dr Singh organised to donate two oxygen cylinders to the hospital her cousin's wife died in. She said it was heartbreaking to hear what was happening.
"We knew there would be a second wave, but we didn't know it was going to be like this," she said. "It's horrible.
"I don't have the guts to open the Indian channels on TV - all you see is deaths.
"My sister is a gynecologist over there, but she's just doing normal jobs seeing sick patients, not any gynecology. She said 'they need me'."
Mr Rana described the situation as "very, very disheartening".
"Almost everyone I know over there knows someone who has suffered or passed," he said. "It's very sad. Your near and dear ones are suffering and there's nothing you can do."
Cameron Park's Ritu Singla, who relocated from India 14 years ago, said she believed the Australian government was in a tricky situation.
"Whatever they do, they will be criticised," she said. "If they open up, people here will be at risk, but if they ban flights then people overseas will think 'are we not important?' No one is wrong, no one is right, it's just an unfortunate situation."
Her mother and brother both caught the virus in the first wave. She said two of her brother's friends died in the most recent outbreak along with some old neighbours.
"The situation is very severe, it's sad and unfortunate," Dr Singla said. "It's awful. I feel so helpless. I've never felt this way before. There's been no time before I could not go back."
She also feels for the doctors, who are doing all they can with limited resources.
"It's like fighting with sticks in front of missiles," she said. "I feel so sorry for the doctors but they're not giving up."
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