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British Army in Kenya struck down by Covid-19 as soldiers hospitalized

The British military presence in Kenya is deeply unpopular with Kenyans after several incidents including a fatal shooting of a local man in 2013

The bulk of the British army in Kenya has been placed in “enhanced isolation” as fears mount of widespread coronavirus infection among the army’s training unit in the East African country.  

The soldiers are part of British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) which operates from two locations, one in Nairobi and another in Nanyuki.

According to Sky News (February 09), four British soldiers in Kenya have been hospitalized after developing serious Covid-19 symptoms.

A further 11 British soldiers have tested positive for Covid-19, but according to Sky News there are growing fears in British military circles that many more have been infected.

The situation is sufficiently serious for the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to place 320 soldiers into “enhanced isolation” with some personnel “forced” to live under “bivouac tents” for 10 days.

The news is bound to alarm the Kenyan military which trains – and in some cases lives - alongside the British army.

More broadly, the Kenyan government will be concerned of rapid infection among civilians living in close proximity to UK forces.

These fears will be compounded by British soldiers’ complaints of lax health procedures operated by the MoD in Kenya.

One British soldier described the situation as “chaos” while another told Sky News: “The rules we’re all used to following in the UK don’t seem to apply on training in Kenya”.

Despite the health crisis the MoD reportedly flew another 150 British soldiers to Kenya on Monday (February 08).

It remains to be seen what action (if any) the Kenyan government will take to contain this fast developing health crisis in their country.

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