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8 Mar, 2020 21:58

Coronavirus scares Finnish military away from joint NATO drills in Norway

Coronavirus scares Finnish military away from joint NATO drills in Norway

Finnish soldiers will not participate in a Cold Response exercise in Norway over coronavirus concerns. The drills were expected to bring together 15,000 soldiers from 10 countries, but the numbers might shrink over the virus.

The decision to skip the drills was announced by the Finnish Army on Sunday. Finland, which is not formally a part of NATO, was to send 400 soldiers to take part in the alliance’s war games, scheduled to take place in the northern Norwegian region of Troms March 9-19.

“The participation of the Armed Forces in the Cold Response exercise conducted by the Norwegian Armed Forces… has been cancelled due to the coronavirus situation,” the army’s statement reads.

Also on rt.com Italian army’s chief of staff tests positive for coronavirus

Earlier this week, Norway called upon its NATO allies to thoroughly screen participating troops for the coronavirus in order to prevent a potential large-scale outbreak. The country’s military itself, however, has already been hit by the dreaded virus – 1,300 personnel have been quarantined at the Skjold base located in Troms region after one person tested positive for the virus on Thursday. The personnel of the base are expected to skip the Cold Response drills as well. 

US military personnel in Europe set to participate in the drills have also been affected by the coronavirus. One US sailor was confirmed to have the coronavirus in Italy, the country experiencing the worst outbreak in Europe. Italy’s coronavirus situation prompted the authorities to effectively put the entire northern region of the country into lockdown on Sunday.

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