The Australian defense (ADF) has decided to temporarily suspend non-essential personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
As the deadly disease continues to spread around the world, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on Monday announced that all non-essential ADF members would be temporarily called back to the country's main base in theMiddle East and a few withdrawn to Australia, reports Xinhua press agency.
"Non-essential personnel will be relocated to Australia's main logistics base in the Middle East and those who are close to concluding their operational duties will be able to return home," she said in a statement.
"This temporary measure is to preserve the safety of our people and partners, and to limit the spread of COVID-19 in operational areas.
"There will be no impact to the force-protection of ADF personnel remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan."
She said that the status of defence operations would be reviewed on a continuing basis and training operations will resume when it's safe to try to do so.
It comes after the ADF moved to suspend training missions within the region in response to the virus.
Earlier on Monday, Reynolds announced that the ADF would be deployed in Australia to help with logistics, transport, health and general planning because the pressure on the general public healthcare system reaches unprecedented levels.
"Defence continues to follow the advice of Australian health authorities when prioritising its support arrangements," she added.