As coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the United States, the Defence Department on April 18 said that it would extend travel restrictions through June 30. During a telephonic briefing, Matthew Donovan, who is the undersecretary of defence for personnel and readiness, reportedly said that the new order will go into effect on Monday, however, he also informed that the authorities will allow some redeployments and repatriation of troops serving abroad.
Donovan reportedly said that the new guidelines allow for operational deployments and redeployments. He added that it also allows travellers who are in the middle of temporary duty travel of permanent change of station. Furthermore, the troops will now also continue on their home stations or new duty.
The new guidelines come as, last month, Pentagon chief Mark Esper had ordered a 60-day halt on all travel for civilian and military employees, as well as their family members because coronavirus was spreading within the US armed forces. However, Esper’s order was due to expire in May. The new order extends the previous order for a month, but with new guidelines, where the armed forces will be reporting back to their duty.
According to the new measure, local commanders can now authorise deployed soldiers, notably those serving abroad, to return home if circumstances on the ground permit such move. Although, Donovan did not specify if the allowance for reparations would affect soldiers in conflict zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. According to an international media outlet, a total of 2,986 confirmed cases of coronavirus within the US military have been reported. Two military personnel have also reportedly died, including a sailor on the stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, and 44 have been hospitalised.
Meanwhile, the United States has the hight number of COVID-19 cases in the world. With more than 738,000 confirmed cases, the deadly virus has claimed nearly 39,015 lives in the country. According to worldometer, out of the total number of cases, as of April 19, 68,285 people have been recovered, however, more than 13,000 people still remain in critical condition. Coronavirus, which originated in China in December 2019, has now claimed over 160,000 lives worldwide and more than 2.3 million people have been infected with the deadly virus.