Canadian military says coronavirus is ‘primary concern’

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The head of Canada’s armed forces has said preventing the spread of the coronavirus in the country is the “primary concern” of his troops.

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“Today, our mission along with the armed defence of Canada is to safeguard our health, safeguard the health of Canadians, and be prepared to respond to calls for assistance,” General Jonathan Vance said in a statement Friday.

Units will be able to “deploy by sea, road or air” to support authorities in the battle against the pandemic in Canada, the statement added.

Domestic and global operational commitments will be maintained, the statement said, although some missions “will be reviewed” and scaled back to protect the health of soldiers.

All those returning from deployment will be quarantined for 14 days.

Canada has so far reported 4,757 infections and 55 deaths from the coronavirus.

On Thursday the defence ministry announced it was scaling down its training of the Ukraine military – started in 2015 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea – due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two hundred soldiers were scheduled for deployment in early April to relieve a group already in Ukraine, but the number will be reduced to 60.

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