NEWS | March 4, 2020

U.S. Army Central Command Surgeon Talks COVID-19 Protection Measures

By Staff Sgt. Matt Britton U.S. Army Central

As the COVID-19 Coronavirus continues to spread, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Army Central, are taking active measures to ensure U.S and Coalition personnel in their area of responsibility are educated about and protected from the COVID-19 virus.

“The Department of Defense is working with the Center for Disease Control and following their guidelines as the foundation of our prevention and screening program,” said Col. Jason Seery, USARCENT command surgeon. “Leaders are closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus and analyzing the severity and risk it poses.”

If any of our personnel have traveled to the affected areas, they should be aware of the symptoms: cough, fever, chill, sore throat or shortness of breath. If anyone experiencing these symptoms and suspect they may have contracted the virus, seek medical attention immediately.

“As part of the preexisting Emergency Response Plans, USARCENT will establish isolation and quarantine areas to care for our mildly ill personnel and anyone that may have been exposed, but has not shown symptoms yet,” said Seery. “Individuals that become moderately or severely ill will be cared for in a medical facility. Additional health and force protection measures will also be taken.”

Seery further elaborated on procedures that USARCENT is currently establishing and improving.

“We are currently conducting screening of personnel moving intra- and inter-theater at the debarkation and gateway centers,” said Seery. “Additionally, leaders and medical staff recently reviewed and exercised our Emerging Infectious Disease protocols to address potential infections, like COVID-19. USARCENT locations are ready to respond if a team member becomes ill. If the risk of infection to our personnel increases, our leaders will implement additional measures in our plans to ensure the safety of the force.”

Seery listed hygiene precautions everyone should follow to minimize the possibility of spreading the virus.

“All personnel should practice the same standard hygiene practices that are well known and published in order to prevent the spread of bacterial and viral infections,” said Seery.

· Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating, after being in contact with bodily fluids, or in contact with anyone who is ill

· If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol

· Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

· Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick

· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Staying on top of and following the necessary steps is critical in the prevention and spread of the virus.

“Prevention is the key to not becoming sick and spreading the illness,” said Seery. “Following the above mentioned hygiene measures are the best steps that USARCENT personnel can take.”

Click on the links below for further information on COVID-19.

DOD – https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/

DOS – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province--china.html

CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

DHS – https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/02/02/dhs-issues-supplemental-instructions-inbound-flights-individuals-who-have-been-china