The U.S. military has announced that the top leadership has advised that all American combatants interacting with people that are known to travel to China take precautions in regards to the risks created by the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of the people that soldiers are engaged with do not have easy access to the CT scan needed to determine if a person has contracted the virus. War zones are not conducive for continuous monitoring of symptoms and the U.S. military’s leaders want their men and women prepared for the worst.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the executive order to the troops that pandemic protocals need to be activated and rolled out. The order also stated that those within the military that recently traveled to China should be quarantined.
The U.S. military has not reported that any of their members have contracted the coronavirus.
The new method to determine whether a patient has the coronavirus caused a giant spike in statistics this week pushing the total over 60,000. The coronavirus epidemic has been responsible for the deaths of 1,527 people.
Military Times reported on how the branches passed down the message issued by the Joint Staff.
According to the service messages, military commanders have been asked to confine any service member who has been to China since Feb. 2 to their residences or, if they live in an open barracks or share a bathroom with others, restrict them to a temporary lodging facility for 14 days.
The restricted service members will be assessed daily for fever by medical personnel by phone or in person and wear protective gear if they personally conduct the medical checks, according to the messages. Should they display symptoms, they must seek medical attention, but call their military treatment facility first to inform them of their travel.
The Marine Corps message advises civilian employees and contractors, as well as any family members returning from China, to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to detect the virus and prevent its spread, which include voluntarily remaining at home, limiting close contact with people and animals, self-monitoring and seeking medical care if symptoms develop.
The Navy has included visits to Hong Kong and Macau as part of its directive and gives commanders the flexibility to decide whether they need to confine a service member who has had close contact with a person who has traveled to the region.
The Marine Corps also has told commanders to work with military treatment facilities on developing and executing any response and stay up-to-date on CDC guidance regarding the virus.
The Army issued a service-wide message Jan. 31 on the coronavirus advising its members on the illness’s symptoms and instructing them on reducing their risk of catching the infection. The message was issued the same day the Pentagon released an advisory about how service members can reduce the risk of catching the disease.
It does not publicly release its service-wide messages and has not issued any since the executive order.
The Air Force does not publicly disclose its service-wide messages.
Several branches of the international component of the government has withdrawn those that were working in China to return to America. The Defense Department has prohibited all travel to China, and all operatives must remain out of the country until the outbreak is under control.
The director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases stated that although China has dramatically lowered the chances of more cases of the coronavirus leaving their country, but also commented on the inevitability of more cases arriving in America.
The preventative measures recommended to combat the spread of the coronavirus are also behaviors that help prevent the spread of other deadly viruses like the flu. Influenza killed 12,000 in 2019, but the increased awareness of hygiene may have an impact on this year’s number of cases.
Precautions combined with awareness of symptoms will help alert people if themselves, or someone in their family should be evaluated by a doctor.