Amid coronavirus outbreak, Pentagon's chief of personnel, Matthew Donovan warned that the virus poses an increased 'threat' in areas where US troops and defence personnel are located around the globe. According to international media reports, Donovan informed the military's most senior leaders that coronavirus is 'an increasing force health protection (FHP) threat in areas where Department of Defence (DoD) personnel live and work'.
Furthermore, several defence officials also fear that the US military readiness may start degrading as allies have shut down borders and travel in response to the outbreak.
The US military concern is also the latest sign that the virus is now becoming a national security challenge. According to international media reports, amid COVID-19 outbreak, a key joint military training exercise has been cancelled in South Korea. Furthermore, the Pentagon is also sending additional medical and lab personnel, doctors and nurses to support US forces in S Korea.
The United States military in South Korea recently also confirmed its first case among soldiers. The US military said that the 23-year-old soldier was in self-quarantine at his off base residence and he had been based in Camp Carroll in a town near Daegu. Around 28,500 US troops are currently stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.
The US Army in Vicenza, Italy has also been reportedly restricted to access public areas such as church, gyms and childcare centres. The US army in Italy has also ordered for extra Meals Ready to Eat in case they have to quarantine. As per reports, in the Middle East, US Central Command has cancelled all liberty and leave.
On February 28, US health officials confirmed its 64th case. They even confirmed the third case of unknown origin. Furthermore, the recent cases in the US indicate that the deadly virus has been spreading fast with no sign of abating.
The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci reportedly said that the fatality rate in the US could reach the same level as that of China because there is no vaccine or cure available as of yet. Furthermore, Dr Nancy Messonnier of the United States CDC said in a call with reporters on February 25 that a wider spread of coronavirus in the country is certain.
Meanwhile, the death toll in China has surpassed 2,800 and the National Health Commission reportedly confirmed 427 new cases. The total number of confirmed cases within China also hit nearly 79,000 and more than 83,000 worldwide.
(with inputs from agencies)