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NATO drill in Norway ends early over virus fears

Ending exercise early will allow military medics to help fight coronavirus, says Lt. Gen. Rune Jakobsen

Büşra Nur Bilgiç Çakmak   | 11.03.2020
NATO drill in Norway ends early over virus fears

ANKARA

A NATO exercise in Norway has been called off early due to coronavirus fears, the Norwegian Armed Forces said in a statement Wednesday.

"The coronavirus is now out of control in the Norwegian society and that is a new situation to us. Because of this, we have decided to start a controlled closure of the exercise,” said Lt. Gen. Rune Jakobsen, chief of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, in the statement.

As Norwegian healthcare personnel in the armed forces can also work in civilian health care in times of need, "By closing the exercise now, we will also avoid any unnecessarily burden to the civilian health care system,” he explained.

The Cold Response exercise, led by Norway with more than 14,000 troops from nine countries, was scheduled to last through March 18.

According to the statement, the closure will be controlled and the withdrawal of all materiel and personnel will take time.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health confirmed 277 cases of coronavirus on Tuesday.

Some eight cases got the infection within Norway, and this has raised alarm bells.

After emerging in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has now spread to more than 100 countries.

The global death toll is now almost 4,300, with around 118,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

On Monday, the head of the WHO said with the number of countries affected by the virus, the "threat of a pandemic has become very real."

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