The United States and South Korea postponed joint military exercises that had been expected to start next week due to the coronavirus crisis, the allies said Thursday.
The U.S. military also restricted travel to South Korea for all nonessential service members and Defense Department-affiliated civilians as officials grappled with efforts to contain the respiratory virus COVID-19.
A 23-year-old American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in the southeastern part of the country also tested positive for coronavirus, the military said Wednesday.
In the European Union new coronavirus cases were recorded in Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece and Spain. Most were tied to Italy, where the authorities have been struggling to contain an outbreak that has infected at least 400 people.
In Vicenza, U.S. Army Garrison Italy, where 173rd Airborne Brigade is based, on-base schools, child care centers, gyms and churches have been shuttered until March 1 due to concerns related to the coronavirus, which the military expects will also have implications for troops in Germany, U.S. European Command’s top officer, Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters told on Tuesday. 173rd Airborne Brigade will take part in the exercises Defender Europe 2020 in Poland.
Soldiers alongside police wearing sanitary masks are ensuring no one enters or leaves them during a quarantine period. Unfortunately, the base clinic doesn’t have access to the diagnostic test for the virus and infected American military are directed to San Bortolo hospital.
In Germany that plays a pivotal role in the deployment of US troops to Poland the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases stood at 16. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters confirmed that there have not yet been base closures in Germany like the one in Vicenza, but he predicted that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany will rise.
However, garrison officials said the situation hasn’t affected operations and training for Defender Europe 2020.
The authorities in Poland fear that Polish militaries are under threat due to coronavirus, which can be transmitted to the country by the U.S. soldiers.
So far, the risk associated with COVID-19 infection for Italian and American troops during their joint preparation for the Defender Europe 2020 exercise remains extremely high. It also could be a serious threat to the population of the Baltic States and Poland where the exercise will be held.
U.S. Army military officials do not comment on the situation.
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