Russia is quarantining thousands of troops who had been rehearsing for a large military parade in Moscow that was called off only a few days ago due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
The country had planned to hold its Victory Day parade, on May 9, and as many as 15,000 Russian service members were expected to participate. Even as the coronavirus spread around the world, Russian troops continued to prepare for the big event, a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
“All the members of the rehearsals are burning with desire to participate in this historic event and are training their hearts out,” a Russian defense ministry spokesman said in early April, according to The Guardian.
Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called off the parade, explaining that the “risks associated with the epidemic, whose peak has not passed yet, are extremely high.”
The military personnel that had been rehearsing for the parade “have been ordered to return to home bases in accordance with the decision to postpone the military parade on Red Square,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said Monday, according to Russian state media.
“Upon arrival, all military personnel who took part in rehearsals will be placed in two-week quarantine,” the ministry said, adding that all military vehicles and equipment will be disinfected.
The Victory Day parade rehearsals involved thousands of Russian service members training in close proximity to one another at a training area outside Moscow, Reuters reported, citing television footage of the preparations.
There was reportedly no evidence of social distancing, and no one shown was wearing a mask.
It is unclear if any of the troops that participated in the parade rehearsal activities have the coronavirus or if the steps being taken are simply precautionary. There have been reports that some of the participants have been infected, but they are unconfirmed.
Russia, the official figures for which have been called into question, has reported 47,121 coronavirus cases and over 300 deaths.