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Germany deploys 15K soldiers to combat COVID-19 crisis

German army reservists to provide support in medical and logistic sector

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 27.03.2020
Germany deploys 15K soldiers to combat COVID-19 crisis



The German army (Bundeswehr) will mobilize 15,000 soldiers to help support federal states and local authorities in the fight against the worsening coronavirus crisis, dpa news agency quoted Lieutenant General Martin Schelleis as saying in Berlin on Friday.

Speaking at a telephone news conference, Schelleis said the soldiers were not assigned to ongoing foreign missions and are now ready "on a step-by-step basis" to aid in the fight against the virus, known as COVID-19.

Schelleis, who coordinates and leads the military assistance mission, said there would be four regional command centers countrywide for the anti-coronavirus mission, adding that full operational readiness is planned for next week.

The German army is prepared for any deterioration of the situation, according to Schelleis who pointed out that by Friday morning, there had been already 200 requests made for local administrative assistance, up 15% compared to the previous day.

German army support services in the medical and logistic sector are reportedly particularly in demand.

Schelleis mentioned safe storage areas for medical goods, accommodations for the police, expertise for a mobile hospital, mobile rescue stations and test stations.

However, resources are also limited in the Bundeswehr. Less than one percent of German doctors are deployed in the country's army.

The Bundeswehr has already been assigned to various missions to help cope with the current Coronavirus crisis as military aircraft have been used to fly home German citizens from China, and troops have helped set up quarantine facilities and provided medical aid in Germany.

Germany has around 180,000 soldiers in its regular army, in addition to 120,000 military reservists, who are only deployed on a voluntary basis.

Coronavirus cases in Germany continued to surge on Friday despite tough lockdown measures to halt the spread of virus.

The number of cases reached 47,393, while the death toll increased to 295, according to the Berlin-based website Coronavirus-Monitor, which compiles up-to-date numbers from local health officials.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out easing lockdown measures, stressing that new infections continued to rise rapidly over the last couple of days.

The government this week tightened coronavirus restrictions, banning any social contact between more than two people in public.

The federal states also ordered all non-essential shops to close, with restaurants restricted to takeaway and delivery service.

Germany is the third-worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, but its death toll has so far remained far lower than the two hardest-hit countries, Italy and Spain.

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