Corona Strikes Armed Forces in Bodø

Conscripts in Bodø patrolling in nearby woods. (Photo: Benjamin Bekken / Norwegian Armed Forces)

Bodø municipality and the Armed Forces have initiated a joint effort to contain a Covid-19 outbreak in a local military camp. The Norwegian Joint Headquarters, located just outside Bodø, says they are limiting activities where possible; however, operational activities are not affected.

For the past couple of days, a Covid-19 outbreak has hit Bodin military camp in Bodø, Norway.

In a Tuesday press release, Bodø municipality stated that nine cases of infection were registered over the past four days, all of which are related to the Armed Forces in Bodø.

The municipality has decided in collaboration with the Armed Forces to conduct extensive testing of military personnel in Bodø. An initial 350 person will be tested Wednesday and Thursday this week.

“These are mainly conscripts, but also some officers and civilian employees will be tested”, says Chief Medical Officer Tor Claudi of Bodø municipality.

Claudi says there is much to indicate that the infection has been imported to Bodø. Local health authorities fear that there may be new infection cases amongst the military personnel and that subsequently, an increasing number of people may be tested.

Does not affect operational activities

Orlogskaptein Jørn Hammarbeck ved FOH. (Foto: FOH).   
Commander Jørn Hammarbeck at the Joint Headquarters. (Photo: FOH/Joint Heatquarters)

“The situation is still not clear, however, in the Armed Forces, we have systems allowing us to quickly initiate solid and safe routines. The Covid pandemic is extensive and hits both globally and locally. This applies to society at large and the Armed Forces is part of society”, says Press Spokesperson at the Joint Headquarters Commander Jørn Hammarbeck to High North News.

Bodin Camp is part of the garrison in Bodø, which consists of a series of military divisions, amongst them the air base and the Joint Headquarters at Reitan, just outside Bodø.

The Joint Headquarters, also known by its Norwegian acronym FOH, has the overall control over military activities and operations in Norway as well as abroad, and it plans and conducts major military exercises.

Hammarbeck says the FOH has taken measures to prevent infection from spreading and to gain overview over the situation. That is, amongst others, about separating people and preparing for testing.

“We limit or postpone activities where we can, but all operational activities of the Armed Forces run according to plan. We have had solid and strict routines ever since the pandemic broke out”, he adds.

According to Hammarbeck, mass testing organized by Bodø municipality also includes FOH personnel, though he cannot as of yet tell whether anyone from there is infected.

He further stresses that preparedness is in place should an infection outbreak arise.

“There is always someone who has a role, responsibility and authority to execute operational activities. The Armed Forces is constructed so that there is always someone who can step in for others. That also applies to Bodø Garrison and the FOH”, Hammarbeck says to High North News.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.