DIEGO GARCIA, BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY
U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia’s commanding officer hosted a radio town hall April 1 to answer questions about COVID-19 prevention and emphasize social distancing.
Capt. Blake Tornga, the commanding officer of NSF Diego Garcia, hosted the weekly live radio show, updating service members and contractors about the disease, new guidance from the Department of Defense and fielded questions from listeners. There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island, but Tornga reassured that the current policies will stay in effect to keep it that way. All transiting personnel to the island, even for short periods of time, will be placed in quarantine for the minimum 14-day period of observation to ensure they do not bring the virus to the island.
“Our island isolation gives us an advantage in keeping the virus at an arm’s length if we stay vigilant against any opportunity for the virus to get here,” said Tornga. “Our isolation gives us very few options if the virus were ever to take root in Diego Garcia. I will keep the preventative measures in place to protect us until we can safely return to ‘situation normal’.”
NSF Diego Garcia and tenant commands have been practicing social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from coworkers, reducing the number of people in an office by 50 percent through telework, and discouraging group activities in numbers greater than 10.
Grooming standards have been relaxed because the barber and beauty shops are closed until further notice.
The Morale Welfare and Recreation center has also put preventative measures in place. Many of the group fitness classes and other events have been moved outside where people can maintain their distance, or the classes have been cancelled. The movie theater roped off alternating rows, and patrons are directed to sit several seats away from each other. Night life spots have also been closed. Food establishments have moved their tables apart, and the servers observe the 6-foot rule.
“Preventative measures are important to slow the spread of the virus,” said Richard Pierce, Diego Garcia’s fleet readiness deputy director of MWR.
The base galley has streamlined its serving line and seating arrangement to keep patrons at least six feet away from each other at all times. Each guest must wash their hands prior to entry. All self-serve items have been removed and are now given on request. Guests sit at alternating sides of a table while facing a sign that encourages them to not loiter.
COVID-19 prevention and social distancing posters have been hung at bus stops, restrooms, common areas, eating areas, laundry areas, and other places throughout the island where people usually congregate.
NSF Diego Garcia provides logistic, service, recreational and administrative support to U.S. and Allied Forces forward deployed to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.