The upcoming military exercise DEFENDER Europe 20 will be against an “imaginary” eastern enemy, but the real enemy is smaller than anyone could imagine.
Coronavirus is something everyone’s been talking about for a while now. And there’s a reason for that. It has already spread all around the world easily. With most cases of infection (82963) and deaths (2915) registered in China. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports (ECDC) cases that have been registered in Europe on February 28th: Italy (650), Germany (47), France (38), Spain (25), United Kingdom (13), Switzerland (8), Sweden (7), Norway (4), Croatia (3), Greece (3), Austria (2), Finland (2), Russia (2), Belarus (1), Belgium (1), Denmark (1), Estonia (1) , Georgia (1), Lithuania (1), Netherlands (1), North Macedonia (1) , Romania (1) and San Marino (1).
The novel coronavirus detected in China is genetically closely related to the 2003 SARS virus. But there is still little we know about the virus.
According to ECDC “SARS emerged at the end of 2002 in China and more than 8 000 SARS-cases were reported by 33 countries over a period of eight months. At the time, one in ten people who contracted SARS died. The current COVID-19 outbreak caused around 10 000 reported cases in China during the first month of the outbreak, with additional cases subsequently being detected in Europe and other countries. At this point, there is too little data available to say for sure how deadly COVID-19 is.”
The symptoms are similar, but the viruses are very different and do not behave the same way. So this is a completely new virus and it spreads fast, no matter how hard people and the governments around the world work to prevent that. But if there weren’t any precaution steps taken, it could be faster.
US Military base Fort Hood located in Texas, is one of the biggest military bases. Military personnel from the base are sent on missions to South Korea and Japan close to the epicenter of coronavirus. According to kdhnews.com some Fort Hood soldiers may have been exposed to coronavirus, and it’s not clear if they will return to Fort Hood anytime soon, due to the fears of the novel coronavirus.
Note that the US already has coronavirus infected. If the killer virus somehow gets to the base, this might be a problem for executing DEFEU20 drills. First of all Europe already has coronavirus on board. And many European countries started checking people as they came directly from Asian countries as soon as the virus began to spread. According to Sky News Daily, Italy, unlike other countries, didn’t take any precautions. Cases related to the virus have reached around 650. Considering how close we are to the pandemic, the numbers could be significantly higher.
Several sport events had been canceled. According to Michele Uva, a UEFA Vice President, EURO-2020 football matches might be canceled due to coronavirus out-break. Also Tokyo’s Olympic games are at serious risk of cancellation.
Defender Europe 2020 drills is an event to be visited by various spectators in different regions of Europe. It’ll take place in 27 different shooting-ranges and around 38 000 military personnel will participate. It’s a grand event that underlines NATO countries’ obligation to stand up for one another and US’s commitment to its European partners. Fort Hood is one of the US bases to provide personnel and equipment. Experts say there is a possibility that novel coronavirus might travel along. Among others Italy is one of the countries to take part in trainings. This fact increases chances of further spreading the virus to European region and Baltic states.
Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are especially at risk. Germany is a staging point for US troops for further moves towards the Baltic states.
Considering the fact that coronavirus is near, it’s important for preventive measures like immunization and hygiene to be stepped up.
Military trainings is a dirty work, tough conditions and strict schedule give hard time to immune system. Virus elements can easily travel with dust and incubation stage of coronavirus is approximately 14 days which means a person can be infected without even knowing it. This is another factor for the new virus to be active and spread more. The new virus is easily spread from human to human, humanity is one step close to facing the pandemic crisis. The officials from the world health organizations admit the danger the virus represents. So multiple events are strictly monitored and some are to be canceled. However there was nothing said about theDEFENDER Europe 20 by the officials.
Steve Roberts, especially for The Baltic Word