The US Navy has issued new standardised operational guidance that lays out the minimum actions required for units to deploy safely amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Across the naval fleet, deploying units have already developed effective procedures for the restriction of movement, isolation or quarantine periods.
The procedures were coordinated with the Navy Bureau of Medicine, ensuring standardisation across the force.
US Navy operations chief in charge vice-admiral Phillip Sawyer said: “Our forces continue to operate forward every day, the impact of Covid-19 on the global community only heightens the critical role our navy plays in maintaining security and stability at sea.
“As we learn more about this virus, the navy will continue to take steps necessary to preserve our operational readiness while protecting the health of our forces.”
Testing for the virus continues to be the only measure to detect it in asymptomatic individuals.
As a precautionary measure, public health mitigation measures such as social distancing, deep cleaning, and face coverings are to be followed.
US Navy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham said: “Personal responsibility and disciplined organisational public health protection measures are the bedrock of risk reduction and risk mitigation.”
As per the guidelines issued, for a unit to be deployed, a minimum pre-deployment medical screening of 14 days has been mandated. While underway, the deployed units need to adhere to preventative measures, such as handwashing and face coverings.
Pre-deployment screening will include an assessment of Covid-19 exposure history, a temperature check, a check for signs and symptoms, a review of any past testing for the virus, and an evaluation of the member’s high-risk factors.
This guidance also applies to ship riders and direct support personnel.
Prior to embarking, the personnel will also have to undergo a 14-day restriction of movement sequestration period.
Ships throughout the Optimized Fleet Response Plan must comply with this guidance.
Personnel are also required to adhere to local Force Health Protection (HPCON) requirements.