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Military reports 3 more COVID-19 cases linked to Itaewon

South Korea's Defense Ministry (Yonhap)
South Korea's Defense Ministry (Yonhap)

South Korea’s military on Wednesday reported three more COVID-19 infections linked to a cluster that recently emerged in the Itaewon neighborhood, Seoul, bringing the tally to 11. The three soldiers apparently contracted the coronavirus from a staff sergeant at the Cyber Command in central Seoul.

Of all the cases uncovered so far, four soldiers and five officers worked at the Cyber Command, and the other two officers were stationed at an Army base in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.

The staff sergeant at the Cyber Command initially tested positive Friday after having visited a club in Itaewon on May 2 in violation of rules the military had imposed to cut risks.

The sergeant is believed to be responsible for all the infections linked to Itaewon at the Cyber Command.

The military had all personnel at the Command and anyone who had come into close contact with the sergeant tested for the virus. It also disinfected facilities around the compound, located near the headquarters of the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in central Seoul, though the staff sergeant said he had not been to those sites recently.

Two Army officers had tested positive for the virus earlier. An Army captain stationed in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, contracted the disease after visiting a club in Itaewon, also in violation of rules not to engage in unnecessary visits to public facilities outside the base.

The captain is thought to have transmitted the pathogen to his colleague, a first lieutenant working at the same base.

The military has asked all personnel who visited public facilities in Itaewon, including clubs and restaurants, to get tested for the virus. Seventy-seven trainee conscripts and 21 soldiers have come forward and undergone tests. All have tested negative except two who are still awaiting results.

The military said the staff sergeant and captain would face discipline after they recovered, along with others who visited clubs in Itaewon but did not come forward for tests.

The military has 208 people in quarantine.

By Choi Si-young (