CANBERRA, Australia — A planeload of the United States military personnel in the Northern Territory of Australia has been declared close contacts after a fellow passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

The infected woman, a serving member of the US Army, arrived in the capital city of Northern Territory, Darwin, on July 8 before being diagnosed with the virus.

The 22-year-old is one of about 9000 foreign service personnel in Australia for the Talisman Sabre 2021 military war games, which started on July 14.

She was quarantined at the US Marine-leased Bladin Village workers camp, 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) south of Darwin, with about 1000 other US servicemen and women when she tested positive.

According to the Northern Territory Health Department, the woman has since been moved into the red zone at the Centre for National Resilience in Howard Springs, with her fellow passengers now considered close contacts.

“All personnel that traveled on the aircraft with the US Army member that tested positive are being treated as close contacts,” said a spokeswoman. (James Ross/AAP Image)

“All personnel that traveled on the aircraft with the US Army member that tested positive are being treated as close contacts,” said a spokeswoman.

“They are undertaking quarantine procedures at Bladin Village, including daily checks.”

A Defense spokesman said the woman did not come into contact with the community while infectious.

More than 17,000 military personnel from Australia, the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea will participate in Talisman Sabre 2021 military war games.

“Talisman Sabre 2021 military war games is the largest bilateral combined training activity between the Australian Defense Force and the United States military,” said the Australian Government, Department of Defense in a statement.

“It is designed to test our respective forces in planning and conducting Combined and Joint Task Force operations and improve the combat readiness and interoperability between Australian and US forces.”

Occurring every two years, Talisman Sabre reflects the closeness of our alliance and the strength of our enduring military relationship. The majority of the mock war games are scheduled to take place in the northeastern state, Queensland, and off the east coast of Australia.

The Minister for Defence Peter Dutton speaks during a ceremony to mark the official commencement of Exercise Talisman Sabre, RAAF Base Amberley, in Brisbane, July 14, 2021. The Australia–US bilateral military training activity is to be held across Queensland. (Albert Perez/AAP Image)

International forces entering Australia are subject to the exact requirements as any international arrival, including pre-departure screening and testing, mandatory 14-day individual quarantine, and returning a negative Covid-19 test result before exiting quarantine.

“UK, Canadian, Japanese, and Korean service personnel have quarantined in Sydney,” said a spokesman.

“Other foreign troops have been billeted to Brisbane hotels.”

All foreign military personnel arriving in Australia for Talisman Sabre 2021 military war games undertake two weeks’ mandatory quarantine.

Northern Territory Health and Defense declined to answer how many service personnel was on the affected flight.

“Currently, there is no evidence of community transmission in the Northern Territory,” said the Northern Territory Government in a statement.

“States and Territories may introduce additional measures, such as enhanced testing, to control community transmission of infection if it occurs. It may be important that these additional measures are localized to a town, region, or larger geographical area depending on the circumstances.”

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Saptak Datta)



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