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Military Life

Coronavirus: Four Test Positive For COVID-19 In British Forces Brunei As Overseas Bases Go Into Lockdown

Like the UK, military communities overseas are facing up to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic

Brunei Garrison HQ sign

Four people are reported to have tested positive for coronavirus at British Forces Brunei - while other UK Armed Forces communities are having to adapt operations under lockdown around the world.

Despite some significant changes to procedures due to restrictions placed on military communities, similar to the United Kingdom, the Armed Forces are continuing to carry out their duties which are vital to the defence interests of the country.

Jade Callaway, reporting for BFBS Radio in Brunei, said four of the positive tests for COVID-19 in the country came from within the British Forces Brunei, within two self-isolating family groups.

She reported that, outside of the military community, there had been one reported death in the country as a result of coronavirus-related illness, with 131 other reported cases of COVID-19, while 52 people had recovered.

The remainder of patients are undergoing treatment at the country’s National Isolation Centre in the Tutong District of Brunei.

Anyone in arriving in the country has had to go into isolation for 14 days while the majority of flights have been suspended including transit flights through to the UK.

The British Army’s Brunei Garrison has been placed under restrictions consistent with those in the UK while personnel wait for test results.

Across the rest of Brunei, restrictions are less stringent, but there are social-distancing measures in place with restaurants only operating a takeaway or delivery service.

Elsewhere, operations are adapting to new restrictions put in place to a similar level to the lockdown across the UK.

Danny Parkinson, of BFBS Radio in Gibraltar, said the Armed Forces community had been very active in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 around The Rock, with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment working alongside the Gibraltar Health Authority to build a new hospital to cope with coronavirus patients who do not need intensive care.

He said that Gibraltar had also been placed into a lockdown with limits on movement while pubs, restaurants and bars have been closed for several weeks.

Border crossings into Spain are continuing for key workers and essential travel only.

The forces community has quickly adapted in the Republic of Cyprus, where restrictions have been put in place that limit travel, such as essential visits to a supermarket, and people have been asked to carry a self-certifying statement of movement for each journey that is for non-employment purposes, while Armed Forces personnel must carry their Defence ID Card (MOD Form 90) if they are travelling for work.

Chuck Adolphy, of BFBS Radio, said that, as Armed Forces families are forced into isolation by the COVID-19 outbreak, many are turning to innovative ways to pass the time such as an online gaming tournament, home workouts and other creative activities.

The British Armed Forces have also been assisting civilians around the world, as part of the military's commitment to help the UK battle the coronavirus pandemic.

This has included carrying out repatriation flights, with an operation to bring back British holidaymakers who were stranded on a cruise ship in Cuba among the latest of such missions.

About 175 British personnel have also been assisting Gibraltar's government with the delivery of food and medicine to local residents.

Meanwhile, the head of the Armed Forces in the Falkland Islands has said preparations are under way to ensure the military and civilian population are safe from coronavirus.

Brigadier Nick Sawyer said social distancing has begun on the islands as airborne medics from 16 Medical Regiment deploy to the territory to reinforce its only hospital.