More than 2,000 servicemen from Spain’s armed forces are now providing support to the health services of most regional governments to combat the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
A further 5,000 personnel from the Spanish Army, Navy and Air Force have now also been trained and are available to join in operations in the event that they may be required, according to any further spread of the virus.
Under what is termed the ‘Misión Baluarte’, the armed forces personnel are taking part in their second operation organised by Spain’s Ministry of Defence to step up actions in response to the health crisis. During March to May, personnel had also been called up to help with disinfection duties under the ‘Operación Balmis’, specifically at residential care homes, as well as at many transport hubs across Spain, including airport terminals and railway stations.
The new ‘Misión Baluarte’ officially began on 30 September, following an announcement by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in late August that personnel would be made available again, to assist primarily with tasks of tracking and tracing cases of Coronavirus.
In total, 2,063 operational military trackers have been deployed, and which commenced in Andalusia, Valencia and Castilla y León to set up various epidemiological sections that were then integrated with the computer systems of the different regions. Castilla y León now has 360 military trackers, Valencia 312, Andalusia 210, Galicia 190, Madrid 150, Castilla-La Mancha 141, Murcia 110, Balearic Islands 107, Asturias 90, Aragón 88, Cantabria 64, Extremadura 60, Navarra 43, Ceuta 40, Melilla 37, Canary Islands 31 and La Rioja 30.
All the personnel have received specific training for the mission, including knowledge about the disease, tracing techniques and isolation procedures – and most have previous health and emergency skills. In addition to the tracing network, the ‘Misión Baluarte’ also includes a second line of personnel carrying out tasks of disinfection of public spaces. Since 30 September, the armed forces have tackled 326 disinfections, of which 281 have been performed in the region of Madrid.
Pedro Sánchez, together with the Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, recently visited the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (Spanish acronym, UVE) installed in the army barracks in Fuencarral (Madrid), to see first-hand the work being performed by the team of 150 armed forces trackers in the Madrid region.
Sánchez thanked the personnel for the work being carried out, stressing that ‘this tracking work is very important to stop the contagion curve, to stop contagions and above all to also give peace of mind to citizens’.
‘Peace of mind means trust, establishing bonds of trust,’ said Sánchez. ‘Tranquility also means having empathy, which is what you are transferring in your conversations to people who are unfortunately suffering from Covid-19. I would like to convey my gratitude on behalf of the government of Spain to each and every one of you.’
Sánchez also said that, ‘in the same way as we overcame the first wave, we will overcome the second wave’. He reiterated the need for the new State of Alarm to guarantee measures and restrictions that might be required, and which has since been voted by the Spanish Congress to remain in force until May 2021.
‘With the victory morale that you display,’ said Sánchez, addressing the personnel, ‘and with social discipline and also with the spirit of resistance, I am convinced that, just as we defeated the first wave of Covid-19, we are going to defeat this second wave.’
Militares de la @UMEgob han realizado hoy la desinfección y sectorización de la Residencia 'Río Sol' de Monzón, Huesca, dentro de la #MisiónBaluarte de lucha contra la #COVID19.#ElEsfuerzoQueNosUne pic.twitter.com/xhVYoSOfQT
— Ministerio Defensa (@Defensagob) November 2, 2020
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