Troops entering Middle East to be quarantined for 14 days

March 20 (UPI) — U.S. Central Command announced Friday that U.S. and coalition troops deploying to the Middle East will be put under a 14-day pre-deployment quarantine to avoid placing unnecessary strain on medical facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This quarantine will be required for both U.S. and coalition service members regardless of where they are coming from. We are working with all coalition members to ensure quarantines are established in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines,” Central Command said in a statement.

Transportation Command will also work with CENTCOM to ensure troops are quarantined while heading into the region.

The CENTCOM announcement came after NATO Resolute Support announced it is pausing troop rotations into and out of Afghanistan due to concerns about the novel coronavirus, creating hiccups in the alliance’s plan to reduce the number of troops from 13,000 to 8,600 by mid-July.

The British Defense Ministry also said Thursday that it plans to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq amid the pandemic.

“In recent months the tempo of training has significantly declined, which means that I am in a position to bring back the current training unit to the UK,” UK defense secretary Ben Wallace said. “There remains a significant footprint of UK Armed Forces within the coalition and elsewhere. We are committed to building Iraq’s security capacity through our membership of the Global Coalition that has proved so effective and will continue to support the Iraqi Government in achieving stability.”

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