The U.S. is stepping up its military presence on the southern border with Mexico over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
U.S. Northern Command chief Terrence O’Shaughnessy told reporters on Wednesday in a phone conference that the deployment is aimed at protecting the U.S. from potentially infected migrants, who try to cross the border.
Some 540 soldiers will be sent to the border “very soon,” Commanding General Laura Richardson added.
The troops will support border forces in apprehending infected migrants and immediately sending them back, Richardson said.
The U.S. said some two weeks ago that it would send migrants illegally crossing into the country directly back to their countries, in a measure that applies to both the southern border with Mexico and the northern border with Canada.
Washington justified the move by saying that migrants could spread the virus amongst themselves, infect border forces, and speed up the spread among the U.S. population.
There are already several thousand soldiers at the crossing with Mexico.
U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to have a new wall built there by the beginning of 2021.