Corona-hit military asked to halt exercises

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A local mayor in Northern Norway is calling on the military to halt its annual Cold Response winter exercises in the area that involve around 15,000 participants from NATO countries. He fears a spread of the Corona virus, after at least one soldier has tested positive and hundreds of others had to be placed in isolation.

“I don’t think the military has control over the situation,” Bardu Mayor Toralf Heimdal told state broadcaster NRK Thursday night. “When they’ve confirmed a case of Corona, I think consideration for civilians should be placed ahead of their need for training.”

Bardu is Norway’s largest military region and the site of the large winter training program that involves around 6,000 foreign troops from countries including Great Britain, France, Germany and the US plus 9,000 Norwegians. An officer confirmed to TV2 on Thursday that a soldier had tested positive for Corona at the Skjold military camp in Målselv.

Lt Col Per Espen Strande confirmed that the camp has been closed with around 1,300 troops being held inside and not allowed to leave. He told NRK that the military was working closely with the state public health institute and local health autorities “over how the quarantine shall be managed in the days ahead, and what we must do to limit further infection.”

Professor Ørjan Olsvik, a specialist in medical microbiology at the University of Tromsø, said the situation actually can provide the military with a good training situation: “They can practice how to isolate as if this were a biological attack, and can see whether they have good enough testing systems and isolation procedures.” He didn’t think the Corona case at the camp would put the local community at risk.

newsinenglish.no staff