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Kenya: Military Exercises

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 151822, tabled on 9 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the extent of the reported outbreak of covid-19 among service personnel at British Army Training Unit Kenya.

Answered on

22 February 2021

The Army's latest assessment is that this is a small-scale outbreak that has been robustly and capably handled by local British Army commanders. The Army continues to monitor the situation closely.

As with all UK Armed Forces deployments, extensive protective measures have been taken to ensure this necessary training can safely be undertaken both for the personnel exercising, temporary and permanent staff at the British Army Training Unit Kenya and for our Kenyan neighbours. These measures meet or exceed the legislative guidelines for travel in both Kenya and the UK and include: planned periods of isolation before and after the deployment; the mandatory PCR testing of all personnel before departure from the UK; the creation of 'households'; regular temperature monitoring; and the establishment of a robust contact tracing system, with further testing available. All personnel will also be tested as part of their return to the UK.

As part of this process, a small number of personnel, including some identified close contacts, have tested positive after arrival. All who have tested positive for COVID-19 have, where necessary, been given appropriate medical care. The contact tracing system was initiated and, based upon this, some exercising troops were placed into enhanced isolation and are being medically monitored. This is an evolving situation as the unit works with the assistance of the Kenyan Defence Forces - who have been extremely helpful throughout - to PCR test the entire battle group. Between 7-10 February 2021, 13 positive cases were identified; all of these cases were exercising troops.

Commanders immediately initiated heightened measures to prevent further infections which will remain until there is confidence that there are no positive cases on camp. In addition, collaboration with Kenyan Defence Force colleagues, medical surveillance of asymptomatic personnel has been increased to assist identification of any further cases. Additionally, locally employed civilians who work in high transit areas such as the kitchen and gym etc have been asked not to come into work, in order to protect local communities. These areas are being deep cleaned and soldiers will be fed on rations in the meantime.

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