The Swedish military says some 200 conscripts have been sent home from a major military exercise involving thousands of soldiers in southern and central Sweden due to a suspected outbreak of coronavirus infections.
The “Sydfront 21” drill with over 3,500 participants from 13 different units of the Swedish Armed Forces is the first major military exercise in the Scandinavian nation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exercise leader Maj. Ake Palm told Swedish broadcaster TV4 Saturday that the military made the decision to send some of the soldiers home after several conscripts with cold-like symptoms either tested positive or were suspected to have been infected with coronavirus.
Alf Johansson, head of the exercise’s communications, told the Swedish news agency TT that the affected unit had 200 soldiers and 8 positive coronavirus cases have been confirmed so far. He defended arranging the drill in the middle of the pandemic by saying that the military hasn’t burdened civilian health care.
“This is a very important exercise for the army to train together so that we can maintain our ability to defend Sweden,” Johansson told TT.
Sweden, a nation of 10 million, has recorded just over 1 million coronavirus cases, with 14,173 deaths by Friday.