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Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

The Australian government said late Friday that its citizens and residents who have been in India within the past two weeks will be barred from re-entry starting Monday.

The state of play: Government officials said that anyone who disobeys the ban will face fines and up to five years imprisonment, making it the first time Australia has made it a criminal offense for its citizens to go home, per Reuters.

What they're saying: "The government does not make these decisions lightly. However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

The government plans to evaluate the restrictions again on May 15.

Go deeper

May 1, 2021 - World

Fire in COVID-19 hospital ward in India kills 18 patients

Charred medical equipment inside a ward of the Patel Welfare Covid Hospital in Bharuch on May 1. Photo: Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images

A fire in a COVID-19 ward in the Welfare Hospital in Bharuch, a town in Gujarat state in western India, killed at least 18 patients on Saturday, according to AP.

The big picture: The blaze — the cause of which is being investigated — comes on the heels of several tragedies involving coronavirus patients as hospitals across the country struggle with oxygen supplies amid a massive spike in new cases and a slowed vaccine rollout.

May 1, 2021 - Health

Fauci: India should "temporarily shut down" amid COVID-19 rise

Photo: Amr Alfiky-Pool/Getty Images

White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said in an interview that India ought to consider a temporary shutdown as the country currently faces the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world.

By the numbers: India on Saturday for the first time reported more than 400,000 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period, Reuters writes. The country also reported a total of 211,853 deaths.