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New Delhi: Australia is introducing enforced quarantine by midnight on Saturday for citizens returning home from overseas and will deploy armed forces to ensure that people already subjected to self-isolation measures are complying with them.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that returning Australians accounted for around two thirds of the country’s more than 3,000 coronavirus cases, making it the “biggest issue” to be addressed in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“As time has gone on, the risk of those who are returning from other parts of the world actually increases,” Morrison said in a televised briefing.

Australia has already closed its borders to everyone but Australian citizens or residents returning home. Those returnees will now be detained in a hotel for two weeks, rather than trusted to go home and self-isolate.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will be sent out to check if the recent returnees are complying with the previous order to self-isolate at their home for the same period of time, a rare step in a country where the military is not often seen on the streets.

“The ADF will be there to put boots on the ground,” Morrison said.

The rate of infections across Australia at about 3167 remains much slower than in many other countries, but officials are concerned that the number of cases has accelerated over the past week, particularly in the most populated states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. There have been 13 deaths nationally.

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