Fight Against Coronavirus Mobilizes Service Members Specialized in Biological Defense

Fight Against Coronavirus Mobilizes Service Members Specialized in Biological Defense

By Andréa Barreto / Diálogo
April 27, 2020

In Brazil, service members specialized in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear defense (CBRN) carry out hundreds of activities for Operation COVID-19 that the Brazilian Ministry of Defense launched to fight the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“Specialized personnel focus on disinfecting high traffic areas or locations where people tested positive,” said Brazilian Marine Corps Colonel Márcio da Mota Xerém, head of the CBRN operative group of the Brazilian Navy’s (MB, in Portuguese) General Staff. Public transportation stations in big cities, ships in the Amazon region, hospitals, and public spaces are some of the areas where service members operate.

Brazilians who were in Cuzco, Peru, are screened before entering Brazilian Air Force aircraft which were sent to the country for a repatriation mission, in late March. (Photo: Brazilian Army First Sergeant Marcos Poleto)

Specialized system
The three branches of the Brazilian Armed Forces have troops focused on CBRN. There are four groups with this specialty in the MB, four in the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) and two in the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese). “In MB alone, there are about 1,200 service members trained to operate in this area of defense. All the military organizations and ships have at least one trained service member,” the officer said.

As part of Operation COVID-19, in addition to decontamination activities, MB personnel have been conducting short-term internships for service members, police officers, and civilians to share knowledge and training on biological defense — including isolation of contaminated areas, decontamination, and use of protective equipment — and to increase the number of trained personnel to immediately carry out missions in this field.

In addition to disinfecting public spaces and their own military institutions, EB is committed to optimizing the use of resources to clean areas.

Service members of FAB’s Aerospace Medical Institute have been joining aircraft crews to repatriate Brazilians from abroad. Their objective during the flight is to follow all the steps to avoid possible contamination within the group, including the crew. On the ground, EB handles the cleaning and sanitation of FAB aircraft.

Due to Brazil’s large territory, FAB’s aircraft are also used for rapid deployment of CBRN teams from MB and EB.