A soldier conducts temperature checks at the entrance to one of the Air Force bases at Gyeryongdae, South Korea's main military compound, in the city of Gyeryong, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)
Twenty-seven members of the South Korean military were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 as of Sunday, as 8,880 service members have been quarantined.
Infected personnel included soldiers, officers and civilian workers. Fifteen of them were in the Army and 10 were in the Air Force, with one each in the Navy and Marine Corps.
The military has taken the precaution of an expanded quarantine to contain the spread of COVID-19 since the first patient was identified on Feb. 20.
The total number of infected patients from US Forces Korea stood at four, dating to Feb. 24, when it first reported a case in a widow of a former service member who contracted the disease after visiting a base in Daegu.
On Wednesday and Friday, respectively, a service member stationed at Camp Carroll in North Gyeongsang Province near Daegu tested positive, while a Korean national employee at the same base was also found to have been infected.
A wife of the service member identified as infected on Wednesday was the fourth patient with COVID-19. The soldier, his wife and their infant child were transported from Daegu to an isolation unit at Camp Humphreys at the USFK headquarters in Pyeongtaek.
Korea is on its highest alert against the virus, while USFK has set its risk level at “high.” South Korea’s nonessential military personnel stationed in Daegu were allowed to work from home this week. USFK had banned all nonessential travel and visits to its Daegu installations.
On Thursday, Korea and the US postponed their annual joint military exercises until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak that had over 3,700 confirmed cases and had killed 18 people in Korea, as of press time.
It was the first time the two countries put off the drills over an infectious disease.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org