Coronavirus outbreak: US military prepares for pandemic as CDC confirms 15th American case

The measures include planning and taking precautionary actions to ensure that an outbreak of 2019-nCoV does not incapacitate Marine Corps forces, installations and facilities

                            Coronavirus outbreak: US military prepares for pandemic as CDC confirms 15th American case
(Getty Images)

The US Department of Defense has instructed the Marine Corps to prepare and execute pandemic plans in response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Commanders have been instructed to take specific actions to review, update and validate existing disease containment plans to prepare for and respond to a potential occurrence of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

This includes implementing procedures for response, isolation, quarantine, restriction of movement and community-based intervention.

"Ref I is global campaign Plan 3551, which directs US North Com (Northern Command) to execute its pandemic plan and supporting geographic combatant commands to execute their pandemic plans in response to nCoV outbreak," according to a document on the US Marine Corps disease containment preparedness planning guidance for the 2019 novel coronavirus. 

The measures include planning and taking preparatory and precautionary actions to ensure that an outbreak of 2019-nCoV does not incapacitate Marine Corps forces, installations and facilities. The planning will address the protection of all Marines, government civilians, contract workforce personnel and military family members.

"The current threat of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has raised concern that this virus could result in a pandemic disease. In such a scenario, nCoV could spread, infecting US personnel, and threaten the operational readiness of the US Marine Corps," the memo stated.

"Presently, the US Marine Corps is planning, conducting routine surveillance, and commencing engagement activities, to assure and solidify collaborative relationships, and inform all personnel, to be prepared for disease containment operations and support," added the memo.

It continued, "The US Marine Corps will prepare for potential outbreaks of 2019-nCoV. If an outbreak occurs, the Marine Corps mitigates, responds, and recovers from the effects in order to maintain force readiness…. The US Marine Corps is postured to mitigate, contain, respond to, and recover from the effects of a public health crisis, and is capable of conducting assigned missions in a pandemic environment."

This image provided by the Nebraska National Guard shows empty lodging facilities at Camp Ashland, on February 2, 2020. The Department of Defense provided temporary lodging support for up to 1,000 passengers being evacuated from China to the US in response to the coronavirus outbreak there (Sgt. Lisa Crawford/Nebraska National Guard via AP)

The Marine Corps' response to a pandemic outbreak focuses on five major areas: force health protection (FHP), disease containment planning (DCP) and readiness, continuity of operations (COOP), defense support of civilian authorities (DSCA) and support to US government response efforts.

The instructions include identifying all Marines returning from mainland China after February 2, 2020, and placing service members under a 14-day restriction of movement. 

"Restrict Marines to their residence for a 14-day ROM (restriction of movement) period, starting from the day of departure from mainland China. Marines will be assessed by cognizant medical staff (by phone consultation or in-person), as soon as possible, within the first 24 hours of arrival to the home station or their final destination, for the development of fever or symptoms of 2019-nCoV," read the document.

Marines living in open-bay settings, or rooms with shared bathrooms and/or kitchen facilities, will be placed in separate lodging to span the 14 days.  

"Marines will be assessed daily for fever and symptoms by cognizant medical staff. Marines will separate themselves from other people in the home/dwelling if residing with roommates/family members to avoid sharing personal items, to the extent possible pursuant to existing guidance. Marines may not travel, visit public/crowded areas, or use public transportation and should avoid interaction with pets or other animals, to the greatest extent possible," it added.

CDC confirms 15th case in the US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed another infection with COVID-19 in the US. 

Dr Nancy Knight (center) from the US CDC talks to the media at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)

The patient is among a group of people under a federal quarantine order at Joint Base San Antonio or JBSA-Lackland in Texas because of their recent return to the US on a State Department-chartered flight that arrived on February 7, 2020.

The CDC warns that there will likely be additional cases in the coming days and weeks, including among other people who recently returned from Wuhan.

While 195 people were discharged from quarantine on Tuesday, more than 600 people who returned on chartered flights from Wuhan remain under federal quarantine and are being closely monitored to contain the spread of the virus.

"All people who lived or traveled in Hubei Province, China, are considered at high risk of having been exposed to this virus and are subject to a temporary 14-day quarantine upon entry into the US," says the CDC. 

It added, "This is the first person under quarantine at JBSA-Lackland who had symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is currently isolated and receiving medical care at a designated hospital nearby."

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.