Concern over Covid-19 threat from US troops using Shannon

Concern over Covid-19 threat from US troops using Shannon

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The majority of US troops that transit Shannon do so with civilian airlines like Omni Air International – File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

A group that monitors US military aircraft movements at Shannon is calling on the Irish government to take the threat of Covid-19 infection from US troops transiting the airport seriously following reports that a soldier deployed in Kuwait is being monitored for coronavirus.

Thousands of US military personnel have travelled to Kuwait via Shannon in recent weeks and often spend time in the airport’s bar, shops and restaurants.

ShannonWatch now says it’s time that the Irish Government withdrew permission for US troops to use Shannon on health grounds but that it may take a period of time to achieve this.

ShannonWatch spokesman Edward Horgan said: “Over the past 10 days several thousand US soldiers have passed through Shannon Airport on their way to and from the Middle East. Most of these have spent at least two hours within the terminal building using the restaurants and duty-free areas and mingling with airport workers and other airport passengers.

Most of these also pass through Kuwait before on deployment to neighbouring countries all of which have confirmed cases of Covid-19 coronavirus. Reports show that there are over 60 cases of coronavirus in Kuwait where the majority of the US troops passing through Shannon are travelling to and from. Fox News reported on Saturday that a number of US soldiers are now infected, including one based in Kuwait,” Mr Horgan added.

The soldier, deployed in Kuwait, is being monitored for the coronavirus after returning from a vacation in Italy, according to US defence officials. It’s understood that the soldier was tested for the virus and placed in isolation as a precautionary measure while officials wait for the results.

There is no evidence that any US military personnel who have passed through Shannon in recent weeks have shown any indication they have been infected with the virus.

Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch – File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

Mr Horgan said: “As far back as February 27th it was reported that the US was suspending certain types of travel for military and civilian Department of Defence personnel to and within the Middle East due to concerns over the coronavirus. The transit of US soldiers through Shannon Airport therefore poses an unnecessary risk to workers and other airport passengers.”

“We therefore call on the government and Shannon Airport officials to immediately restrict access to the terminal building for US soldiers who are transiting through the airport, in the interests of public health and safety. This is necessary to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus infection,” Edward Horgan added.

 

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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