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Military has 13 infected, 7,500 quarantined

Military personnel spray disinfectant at the entrance of an army training base in the southeastern city of Daegu. A branch of the Shincheonji Church there and a mental institution in nearby North Gyeongsang Province are identified as COVID-19 clusters. (Yonhap)
Military personnel spray disinfectant at the entrance of an army training base in the southeastern city of Daegu. A branch of the Shincheonji Church there and a mental institution in nearby North Gyeongsang Province are identified as COVID-19 clusters. (Yonhap)

A total of 13 military personnel were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 as of Monday, and 7,500 service members had been quarantined, the Ministry of National Defense said.

Infected personnel included soldiers, officers and civilian workers. Ten of the patients were in the Army, while the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps had one each.

The military was notified of its first patient on Feb. 20, when a Navy sailor stationed on Jeju Island was found to have contracted the virus after visiting Daegu, where a large number of infections have been discovered in the past several days.

South Korea has seen a spike in infections stemming from two virus clusters -- a branch of the Shincheonji Church in Daegu and a mental hospital in nearby North Gyeongsang Province.

“We are imposing a more stringent standard in the personnel quarantine as a precaution,” said Moon Hong-sik, deputy spokesperson for the ministry.

Meanwhile, the Military Manpower Administration said it had decided to expand the suspension of physical examinations for conscript candidates nationwide until March 6.

On Feb. 21, the agency first introduced the suspension in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, and stopped drafting soldiers there altogether

Announced shortly after Korea raised its virus alert to the highest level, the decision would delay about 20,000 applicants.

The ministry said it would rethink its decision after March 6.

While Korea’s total number of cases stood at 833 as of Monday, no US Forces Korea personnel here had been confirmed to be infected with the virus as of Monday afternoon.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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