COVID-19: Valcartier soldiers prepare

The Canadian Army is working hard to protect the military against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Particularly at the Valcartier garrison, north of Quebec, some of the soldiers recalled from the United States are in solitary confinement.
“The Valcartier Base Health Center is preparing for any eventuality in order to limit the spread of the virus,” writes Andrée-Anne Poulin, army communications advisor. “For several days now, medical personnel have been present at the reception […] to assess the soldiers who present themselves and take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of contamination.”

“A specialized equipment vehicle used during medical exercises, which resembles a medical office from the inside, is installed near the entrance to receive, if necessary, a soldier who presents with symptoms of COVID-19”, continues Ms. Poulin. “The patients’ vital signs will be assessed outside the building and the patients will either be returned to isolation or referred to the provincial health network […]. This new measure aims to minimize the risk of COVID-19 contamination to other patients. ”

No visitors

In Quebec, four military bases are designated “health center”, including Valcartier and Bagotville. And there is no question of welcoming “ordinary” civilians. “The Valcartier Center serves soldiers from the Quebec region. [It] is only for members of the Forces. ”

In any case, reminds Ms. Poulin, a recent directive dealing with COVID-19 prohibits access to military infrastructure by the population. “During an initial period of three weeks, all access to the premises of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF …) will be temporarily prohibited to visitors.”

“High risks”

It must be said that the army judges that the risk represented by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is “high”. This is why soldiers are no longer allowed to travel, even those who are on mission and who could take leave to see their loved ones. Also, except for missions deemed essential, soldiers and their superiors had to return to Canada, “to their main place of work”.

Yes, those who were on vacation on a beach with their children too.

And they shouldn’t move. “All commercial travel, including air, rail and bus transportation, to Canada for personal leave is not permitted until further notice. Members of the armed forces are authorized to travel by land within a radius of 250 kilometers from their place of work or their principal residence. ”

They must be able to return quickly if they are called in for reinforcement by the federal government.

Andrée-Anne Poulin emphasizes: “Travel is limited for CAF members when risks are high in order to protect them, maintain operational capabilities and readiness, and ensure that they are able to ‘assist civil authorities and Canadians as needed.’

Isolation at the Royal 22 e Régiment

Also, all soldiers returning to the country must respect a quarantine of 14 days. Including troops of the Royal 22 e Régiment who had to interrupt an exercise in New York State to return to Valcartier, as reported by the specialized media 45eNord.ca. The army does not laugh: the convoy was entitled to only one stop on the way back during which we filled the fuel tanks and gave lunch boxes to the soldiers. “They will undergo a preventive isolation,” we learn in the article.

HIGHEST LEVEL 3 LASER OPERATION

The Canadian Army has launched “Phase 3 – Pandemic Response” of its LASER emergency operation, which was developed to fight an influenza-like pandemic. This is the highest level of mobilization.

“Operation LASER is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) response to a global pandemic,” said Andrée-Anne Poulin, communications advisor. “The Chief of the Defense Staff has now activated Phase 3 of Operation LASER.”

The objective of this emergency plan is to “mitigate the possible repercussions of the COVID-19 virus on personnel”; also to “preserve operational capabilities and readiness, and to be ready to support Government of Canada objectives and requests for assistance”.

“Phase 1 – Preparing for a pandemic” is ongoing. This means that the Canadian Army is constantly monitoring the global threat of influenza.

When the Chief of Staff orders it, “Phase 2 – Pandemic Alert” is triggered in order to set in motion “protective measures” for the military.

The head of the Canadian Army judges that the threat is such that the military response to COVID-19 had to be increased as much as possible. “Phase 3 – Response to the pandemic […] is characterized by a generalized and lasting transmission of the virus in the general population and by an imminent risk or the existence of a high rate of absenteeism. The CAF response will depend on the impact of the disease near the location of CAF elements and requests for assistance from civilian authorities. ”

Post-pandemic

And phase 4? It will only be implemented after the passage of SARS-CoV-2. Andrée-Anne Poulin writes to us: “Phase 4 – Post-pandemic recovery: this phase begins when the Chief of the Defense Staff declares post-pandemic status. This phase includes the resumption and restoration of all services and operations of the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Armed Forces to normal levels. This phase returns to Phase 1, which coincides with the declaration by PHAC of a post-pandemic phase. ”

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