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Nine Thai Soldiers Test Positive After Training In Hawaii

Ryan Finnerty
Around 150 soldiers from the Royal Thai Army were in Hawaii during July for the annual Lightning Forge war game.

Updated 4:11 p.m. 7/29/20

At least nine soldiers from the Royal Thai Army tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning home from training in Hawaii.

The number of confirmed cases appeared to be growing, with some reports of 11 soldiers testing positive. 150 members of the Royal Thai Army were recently in Hawaii for a 3 week training exercise known as Lightning Forge.

The Oahu-based training was hosted by the U.S. Army, which says it took precautions like requiring troops to wear masks while in confined spaces and testing personnel with possible symptoms. The Army said no positive cases were confirmed during the exercise.

Following news of the cases in Thailand a spokesperson for the Army's 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, would not disclose a specific number of new cases tied to Lightning Forge, but said the unit was evaluating the health measures put in place during the exercise and was increasing testing and contact tracing to make an overall health assessment. 

The positive cases in Thailand were confirmed by the country’s Disease Control Department. A Thai Army Gen Nathaphon Sisawat told the Bangkok Post the infected men are experiencing mild symptoms and all of the returning troops have been quarantined.

The Royal Thai Army has since cancelled all plans for overseas training missions.

The U.S. military in Hawaii has been granted an exemption to the state’s mandatory 14-day travel quarantine, although the practice is still being widely required by military leaders. Internal travel restrictions enacted by the Defense of Department remain in place for Hawaii installations

Military exercises around the world have been cancelled in attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Honolulu-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command oversees exercises across the Pacific and Asia, which often include Hawaii-based personnel.

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