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Hundreds Of British Troops Are On Lockdown In Nanyuki After COVID-19 Outbreak

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Hundreds of British troops are on lockdown in Nanyuki and living on rations after a Covid-19 outbreak struck their military exercise.

The British Army confirmed four personnel on location with a battle group training regimen had tested positive for the disease.

High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott tweeted that some of the troops in isolation will be released upon testing negative.

“We are partnering with authorities and the local community to minimize risks,” Ms Marriott said.

Following the incident, some 320 military personnel in Nanyuki for “Exercise Askari Storm” were placed under isolation rules at the site – with half quarantining in tents.

Officials said more than 1,000 troops are eating rations after the camp Commander ordered the cookhouse shut and banned local staff including chefs from the camp for their own safety.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the camp at British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) had been split into isolating groups by flights upon arrival, then were subjected to further quarantine orders once the positive tests were confirmed.

It was feared that soldiers who travelled from the UK last week might have brought with them the new UK Covid-19 strain.

With culinary staff among others sent home, the troops are to eat rations. The total number of troops on location is 1,606 and includes at least two infantry battalions.

The outbreak has thrown the unit’s plans into disarray. They were expected to conduct the first major training exercise in the country since suspending operations in the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

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The UK Ministry of Defence, said all soldiers who travelled to Kenya were tested for Covid 92 hours ahead of their flight.

The different groups were required to isolate for six days on arrival to curb transmission of the virus, and were constantly asked about any symptoms daily in addition to PCR testing. It was during this period that the four soldiers tested positive for Covid-19.

UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace on January 26 opened new barracks named ‘Nyati’ at the BATUK camp in Nanyuki.

The unit is a permanent training unit in Kenya with bases in Kahawa and Nanyuki and hosts six infantry battalions per year. It is one of the main British defence assets in the country.

The troops come to Kenya annually to train with live fire at the Archer’s Post area, which is taken to be one of the harshest terrains in the country.

The troops also engage in exercises like civil engineering projects and medical deployments to provide primary health care assistance to the local communities.

Since the Defence Cooperation Agreement was signed in 2016, Batuk has contributed over Sh5.8 billion to the local economy, officials say.


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