When a company of Royal Thai Army soldiers quarantined after returning home from training in Hawaii, 11 were isolated when they exhibited flu-like symptoms. Now Thai authorities say eight have tested positive for COVID-19.
Members of the U.S. Army’s newly formed 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade based at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state also came to Hawaii for the exercise.
It was the army’s first brigade level exercise since the beginning of the pandemic. During the exercise all participants — about 5,500 troops — were kept in a “training bubble” to prevent infections. Thai troops were kept in military housing and training facilities.
During the exercise five U.S. troops were sent to Tripler when they exhibited potential symptoms but all tested negative. U.S. Army officials in Hawaii have been in contact with the American Embassy in Thailand and Thai military officials as they try to determine where and how the visiting soldiers contracted the virus.
“We are evaluating the force health protection measures that were put in place during Lighting Forge and have implemented contact tracing and increased testing among our soldiers to help determine the overall health assessment of our forces following the exercise,” said 25th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Col. Adam Hallmark.
Due to orders from the Pentagon, Hawaii-based military commanders can’t release infection numbers publicly but share data with Hawaii state health officials. The total case numbers for Hawaii include military infections, but state officials don’t publicly distinguish military and civilian cases.
Thailand currently has had a total of 3,297 cases, 3,111 of whom recovered while 128 remain in hospitals, with a death toll of 58. The same Thai soldiers are scheduled to return this fall as part of Pacific Pathways to train again with the 2nd Brigade at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Not a subscription
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.
Kevin Knodell reports on the military and veterans for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported topics.