Members and resources of the Armed Forces of Uruguay deployed to support the community in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic with the distribution of basic and medical supplies and border patrols, among other essential measures.
On March 13, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou declared a health emergency as a result of the coronavirus. Measures included partially closing the borders, mandatory quarantine for passengers from countries declared at risk, banning cruise disembarkation, suspending public shows and school classes, and isolation, among other measures.
“We have several actions. Commandos of the Armed Forces are ready and willing to work in border areas to increase containment efforts to confront the disease,” said Uruguayan Defense Minister Javier García at a press conference. “We offered to deploy, control public health parameters, take [people’s] temperature to rule out signs of the disease,” he added.
More than 1,200 elements from the Armed Forces deployed for Operation Safe Border at different points of the country to guard land and fluvial borders, stop illegal drug and human trafficking, and intensify controls against the coronavirus pandemic.
The Uruguayan Air Force (FAU, in Spanish) made aircraft and helicopters available for the eventual transport of patients or medical laboratory equipment. Likewise, FAU repatriated Uruguayan citizens stranded in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador in humanitarian military flights.
The Uruguayan Navy has been handling the entry and exit of foreigners and Uruguayan citizens by sea and land as well as accompanying and guiding passengers suspected of carrying the virus to check and isolation points.
“We collaborate with the Public Health Ministry for the entry of Uruguayans and foreign residents to Uruguay,” said to Diálogo Uruguayan Captain Diego Perona, head of Public Relations for the Navy. “In the face of the state of health emergency, the Navy, through its different prefectures, is dedicated to raising citizens’ awareness to avoid crowds in addition to restricting navigation.”
For its part, the Army said it was supporting the population in medical centers in the cities of Montevideo, Melo, Cardona, Dolores, and Flores. The 1st Artillery Group Brigadier General Manuel Oribe, 8th Armored Cavalry Regiment Patria, and 5th Infantry Battalion Asencio, made vehicles and qualified personnel available to transport and install a tent on the hospital grounds of each city to be used as a waiting room for patients affected with coronavirus.
Since mid-March, the Army also uses some of the Quartermarster Service’s workshops for the manufacture of face masks. Service members can produce some 1,000 face masks a day.
“Behind all this misfortune, we must look for the positive. We all understand that all government agencies must work together and coordinate to be stronger in the battle we face,” Minister Garcia said.