More than 10,000 Australians remain overseas, including many in remote and far-flung places, who are keen to return home, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson has said.
While more than 300,000 have made their way back to Australia since the coronavirus emergency escalated in mid-March, Ms Adamson has revealed thousands more are still considering their options.
"We think there are still probably well over 10,000 Australians in parts of the world where they're contemplating coming home, wanting to come home, assessing their situation," the DFAT secretary said in an interview published by the Institute of Public Administration Australia.
Ms Adamson said it had been a massive effort to help thousands of Australians caught overseas to return and her department was in contact with those still overseas to provide assistance where it could.
"We've had something like 300,000 Australians have come home one way or another since the 13th of March," she said, including around 6500 passengers from 51 cruise ships.
She praised the efforts of DFAT staff and public servants from other departments that have contributed to repatriating so many travellers.
"None of this has been trivially easy and I absolutely take my hat off to colleagues here in Canberra who've been working night and day, to colleagues around the world," she said.
"Some of them have been working in very heavily affected by COVID parts of the world. In some cases they've been trying to help Australians from positions of self-isolation and quarantine."
In the early stages of the crisis the federal government came under intense pressure to organise the repatriation of thousands of Australian tourists stranded aboard infected cruise ships or in countries that virtually locked down their borders.
This included more than 300 Australian tourists stranded in Peru in late March after the government declared a state of emergency and brought almost all domestic and international travel to a halt.
They were eventually evacuated on flights organised by the Australian government following direct talks between Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her Peruvian counterpart.
Many, such as in India, organised their own charter flights to make their way home.
It is estimated that as many as a million Australians are abroad at any one time, and many are thought to still be living in places such as Bali, New York, London, Los Angeles, Port Moresby and New Zealand.
"Intrepid Australians, pretty capable Australians obviously, but some of them are really a long way from home and needing our help," she said.
"There've been limits, in a number of cases, to what we've actually been able to do."
The senior official said the demand for her department's services had been enormous, including 38,000 calls to its emergency call centre in the past seven weeks.
Ms Adamson said there had also been a dramatic expansion of DFAT's use of social media as a way to keep citizens abroad informed of travel advice and other developments.
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. If you're looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here.