Over 400 military personnel in coronavirus quarantine: Taiwan defense minister

New figure is down from a high of 2,000, includes two generals

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Defense Minister Yen De-fa (right) with Premier Su Tseng-chang (center) at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday March 10 

Defense Minister Yen De-fa (right) with Premier Su Tseng-chang (center) at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday March 10  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — More than 400 members of the armed forces are staying in self-imposed coronavirus quarantine, but the number is not affecting the country’s military readiness, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said Tuesday (March 10).

Later in the day, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that two new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed, bringing the total for Taiwan to 47. None of the patients are active members of the military.

Speaking at the Legislative Yuan, Yen said that at one time, a total of 2,000 military personnel had been in quarantine, including two generals. The reason for the two senior officers’ home isolation is that they had passed through coronavirus-affected areas on their way back from separate trips to Taiwanese allies Nicaragua and Eswatini, he said, adding that they have since returned to work.

The new total of more than 400 quarantined military staff means the situation has improved, CNA reported.

The minister also noted that the military is aware of unconfirmed reports that the coronavirus might have been the product of biological warfare experiments. He said the armed forces will never underestimate the enemy and that they will study and research all possibilities.

Yen added that all necessary measures have been taken to prevent the coronavirus from affecting Taiwan’s military. Soldiers have also been taking part in efforts to fight the virus, such as disinfection and providing spaces at military hospitals for virus patients, according to the CNA report.