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Marine tests positive for coronavirus after arriving in Australia for Darwin rotation

Members of Marine Rotational Force — Darwin arrive at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin in the Northern Territory, July 8, 2020.

SCOTT SCHMIDT/U.S. MARINE CORPS

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 14, 2021

A Marine who arrived recently in Australia’s Northern Territory for six months of training has tested positive for the coronavirus while under a 14-day quarantine, according to a weekend statement from Marine Rotational Force — Darwin.

The service member, who is now isolated at Royal Darwin Hospital, tested negative for COVID-19 before leaving the United States, according to the statement. The Marine’s close contacts have been identified and will remain in quarantine until further testing, it said.

“Since departing the U.S., service members have been kept in small groups and have worn face masks to limit the amount of close contacts and transmission potential during travel,” the statement said.

The annual rotation to Australia is expected to be back at nearly full strength this year, with 2,200 Marines in the Northern Territory by June, according to Australia’s defense department. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic meant last year’s force was cut by more than half, well short of the 2,500 Marines who went Down Under in 2019.

Marines and Australian troops will train for humanitarian assistance missions and security operations and conduct live-fire exercises, Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said in a statement this month.

The first two groups of Marines to arrive in Darwin were to quarantine for 14 days at an Australian military base, according to a previous Marine Corps statement. Remaining groups will quarantine in a secure facility leased by the Marines outside of Darwin.

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