Above: A USAF Galaxy, here in Germany, but the kind of aircraft regularly supplying the Pine Gap military base.
By KIERAN FINNANE
Last updated 18 March 2020 10.20am. See at bottom.
Pine Gap personnel coming into the country are “subject to the same checks and requirements imposed by the Australian Border Force as all other international arrivals,” says an Australian Department of Defence spokesperson.
This must mean that anyone arriving in Australia after midnight on Sunday 15 March is required to self-isolate for two weeks.
We are, however, yet to see fully play out possible infections carried into the country before the imposition of this measure.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews was reported in The Australian on Friday 13 March saying that the majority of Victoria’s new cases were connected to the USA, calling for travel restrictions to be imposed on people coming from that country.
The same day the Alice Springs News, responding to multiple reports in mainstream American news media of that country’s poor handling of the COVID-19 crisis, put to the Department of Defence (the only way to get any official information about Pine Gap matters) the following questions:
Is the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap in communication with the NT Government and its health authorities about the virus and its protocols for dealing with it, in particular as there are regular incoming supply flights direct from USA?
Is the JDFPG giving full access and cooperation to the NTG and its health authorities on this issue?
We asked additionally on Monday 16 March:
Now that the Australian Government is mandating self-isolation for all incoming international arrivals, can you please confirm that this also applies to all incoming passengers to JDFPG.
Where will that self-isolation take place?
Says the spokesperson: “All international arrivals will comply with these [Australian Government] requirements, including the requirement to self-isolate in an appropriate location.
“Defence is working closely with local, state and territory governments and health authorities to ensure its response to COVID-19 aligns with the latest public health advice.
“Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, like broader Defence, is adapting its policy and procedures as required to ensure compliance with the latest Government advice in relation to COVID-19. This is important for the protection of Defence personnel and critical operations as well as for the wellbeing of the Australian public more broadly.”
The spokesperson also referred us to the Defence website, where this map showed that there were five Defence cases of COVID-19 infection Australia-wide as of Saturday 14 March at 15.30 AEDT, and none in the NT.
The preventative measures it outlines apply to “all Australian Defence Force (ADF), Defence Australian Public Servants (APS) and contractors working in Defence establishments”.
It also refers to “eligible foreign military members”.
The News put similar questions about Pine Gap personnel to the NT Government. We received the following reply:
“The Health guidelines for identification of cases and contacts is informed by Commonwealth guidelines and takes into account both clinical symptoms and a history of any international travel in the preceding 14 days. This includes travel to the USA.”
UPDATE 18 March 2020 10.20am:
The page showing the Department of Defence map above has been updated today and it shows no changes. DoD is still managing five confirmed cases of the virus in the locations indicated; none in Central Australia.