Vernon’s army camp is now home to 30 Reservists from the Lower Mainland.
The group is sequestered at the army camp as the Canadian Armed Forces seek to build a force of reliably COVID-free soldiers ready to help vulnerable populations.
The 39 Canadian Brigade Group made the announcement on its Facebook page Tuesday, April 21.
Joint Task Force (Pacific), which leads the military in B.C. against the COVID-19 pandemic, has already sequestered sailors on the West Coast aboard ship, meaning crews have operated for at least 14 days without interacting with others. Fourteen days is the maximum observed incubation period for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Fourteen days from now, the soldiers sequestered in Vernon will remain in place for two more weeks, as 30 new soldiers rotate behind them into sequestration. If the province or federal government asks, these COVID-free personnel can then be sent into vulnerable populations where they’ll be able to render assistance without fear of themselves being vectors for the disease.
“Sequestration is an extreme form of isolation,” said Col. Paul Ursich, commander of the Land Component Command for JTF(P). “Soldiers will have no interaction with family, friends or even colleagues. Their meals will be delivered and they’ll be expected to stay isolated. It will be challenging, but COVID-free soldiers are of immense tactical value.”
Neither the provincial nor federal government has made a substantive request for military assistance in B.C. thus far. But Ursich said that could change in a minute.
“We don’t plan for the best-case scenario, we plan for the worst,” he said. “A remote First Nations community or a town with a large elderly population, these are places where we want to be especially sure our help doesn’t inadvertently make things worse. Sequestration provides that extra layer of comfort.”
Today there are almost 830 reservists in B.C. on full-time service ready to respond to government requests for help in the COVID-19 crisis. These same soldiers, sailors and Rangers are also poised to provide support should natural disasters such as fires or floods threaten their fellow Canadians.
It was announced last week that all summer operations at the Vernon Army Camp would be cancelled in wake of the pandemic.