Chivenor marines among UK troops hit by Norway Covid outbreak

Winter warfare training in Norway

Winter warfare training in Norway for the Royals Marines - Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

There has been an outbreak of Covid-19 among British armed forces including Royal Marines from Chivenor currently in Norway on the annual winter warfare training exercise. 

The Gazette was contacted anonymously by someone close to one of the hundreds of UK armed forces personnel on the Arctic training to say they understood several had tested positive within two weeks. 

They alleged no information had been passed back to the families at home and asked why the deployment had taken place during a national lockdown. 

It was announced today (January 26) that the NATO Joint Viking winter warfare exercise with more than 3,000 troops scheduled for February 8 had been cancelled due to rising coronavirus infections.

Local Norwegian reports from the Nye Troms website today (January 26) said so far 53 Americans, 25 British and four Dutch had tested positive.

In a news conference on Tuesday (January 26), Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said the 2,900 foreign troops currently in the country would now gradually leave, Reuters has reported.

Cold weather survival and warfare training for Royal Marines in Norway.

Cold weather survival and warfare training for Royal Marines in Norway - Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The Gazette put our source's concerns to the Royal Navy and a spokesperson said there had been ‘a small number’ of positive cases, adding: “A number of Royal Marines deployed in Norway are currently in quarantine after a small number of positive cases.  

“Personnel were in a two-week isolation period after travelling when they were tested, further precautionary measures are in place to allow this essential training to be conducted safely.” 

They said no serious medical intervention had been required.

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The anonymous source told the Gazette those in the bubbles of personnel who had tested positive were placed into secure facilities with four or five people to one small room, resulting in more cases. 

Norwegian law currently requires anyone entering the country to quarantine for 10 days after producing a negative Covid test certificate on arrival. 

The annual training sees Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel from across the UK, including members of Commando Logistic Regiment (CLR) at RMB Chivenor, travel to the Arctic Circle for intense training in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees. 

Taking part in a number of scenarios, they are instructed in cold weather survival techniques, avalanche safety procedures and ‘ski warfare’. 

In response to the quarantine measures underway, the RN spokesperson said: “This is the right thing to do in the light of the ongoing outbreak and it is important UK personnel don’t add to pressures on any host nation’s health system.” 

They said the Ministry of Defence had worked closely with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and was closely following its guidelines. 

They said the MoD had ‘put in place plans to ensure the delivery of its key operations in the UK and overseas where appropriate’.    

Decisions to alter or cancel deployments or exercises were made on a case-by-case basis. 

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed in Monday (February 1): “UK training on the Winter Deployment is expected to continue in the short term by troops who have been through a rigorous quarantine procedure. No new troops will be sent out to participate.”

Has a member of your family currently out on deployment in Norway been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak? If you would be willing to speak to us, please email newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk.  

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