THE Spanish Navy has announced its first mission as part of the large-scale Operation Balmis.

The amphibious vessel Galicia will set sail to the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the northern coast of Morocco this week with a full crew of military and medical personnel as well as 800 beds.

The 160m-long ship will house two operating rooms, eight ICU beds, a consulting room, triage, radiology, a laboratory, sterilization, an infectious area and a dental unit.

The ship is waiting on the allocation of staff before it makes its journey to help bolster the community’s health facilities whilst doing its part in inter-political relations between the two land masses.

Although Melilla is not greatly affected by COVID-19, the enclave is the only autonomous community currently serviced by Insalud.

With the Moroccan border closed, the departure of the Galicia signals a show of solidarity for Spain’s neighbours.

For a number of days, naval vessels have been mysteriously stationed along the Costa del Sol and only this week the Spanish Navy has confirmed that the ships are part of Operation Balmis, mobilised with the aim of stabilising medical facilities for the most needy. 

The five vessels, the Juan Carlos I, Galicia, Castilla, Patiño and Cantabria, have the capacity to host around 300 extra ICU beds as well as extra medical personnel sourced from military reserves. 

The news of the first mobilisation comes just a day after the first military service member has been announced to have died from the virus. 

Although he has not been named, he was a second lieutenant from the Air Force stationed at the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome (Madrid).

In total, 208 service members have contracted the virus so far.

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