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Operation ‘Balmis’ deploys more than 2.500 troops in 172 cities to control COVID-19

March 24, 2020

 Military Personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Military Emergency Unit and Royal Guard are deployed against COVID-19

 Operation Balmis continues with more than 2500 troops from the Army, Navy, Air Force, UME and the Royal Guard deployed in 172 locations throughout Spain to deal with COVID-19. The operation, which began on 15 March, is directed by the Chief of Defence Staff (CHOD) and conducted from the Operations Command.

The actions being carried out are mainly related to the disinfection of critical infrastructures (ports, airports and stations), health facilities and dependencies of both the FCSE (law enforcement agencies) and other essential public services, as well as support in the establishment of field hospitals. Actions to support the transportation of materials to health care sites and facilities are increasing. It is especially relevant the effort made in the disinfection process of more than 130 old people’s homes and the transfer of patients and elderly people from hospitals to medically equipped hotels.

The Spanish Defence Millitary Pharmacy Center (CEMILFARDEF in Spanish) started to produce hydroalcoholic gel for hand cleaning at a rate of 800 l/day, paracetamol and anti-viral.

Operation Balmis

The mission of the Armed Forces in this health crisis has been named Operation ‘Balmis', as a tribute to the humanitarian expedition led by Francisco Javier Balmis between 1803 and 1806, a military doctor who brought the smallpox vaccine to the overseas territories of the Spanish Empire in America and the Philippines.

The purpose of the group was none other than to end the infant mortality that the virus was causing in the overseas territories. Since their departure from the port of La Coruña, the crew immunized the populations of the Canary Islands, America and the Philippines, Macao, Canton and the island of Santa Elena. A sanitary feat that the Doctor from the Spanish province of Alicante achieved together with the Catalan military man José Salvany.