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Another US soldier tests positive for coronavirus after arriving in South Korea

Newly constructed barracks have been outfitted to house patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus and others who are required to quarantine on Camp Humphreys, South Korea, on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 2, 2020

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SEOUL, South Korea — Another American soldier has tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in South Korea for a new assignment, the military said Tuesday.

The new case, which brings to 32 the number of people affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea who have been found to have the virus, underscores the continuing challenges involved in personnel movements amid the pandemic.

Six troops who arrived in South Korea from abroad are among those whose coronavirus tests have come back positive.

The latest was a soldier who was tested, according to procedure, after arriving at Osan Air Base on Saturday aboard the Patriot Express, a government-chartered flight, U.S. Forces Korea said in a press release.

He got the results while in mandatory quarantine at Camp Humphreys and was moved to a barracks that has been outfitted with negative-pressure isolation rooms for infected patients, the command said.

“USFK health professionals determined there was limited contact tracing due to the soldier being immediately quarantined, and conducted thorough cleaning of the bus and quarantine room,” the press release said.

The Pentagon announced last month that travel restrictions for military and civilian personnel aimed at preventing the spread of the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus would be gradually reduced in a “conditions-based, phased approach.”

Troops and others also may travel after obtaining an exception to policy to facilitate moves deemed essential.

South Korea has seen a sharp decline in the number of coronavirus cases since reaching a peak of 909 on Feb. 29, although authorities remain concerned about recent outbreaks and imported cases.

USFK, which commands some 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea, has implemented a strict process for all arrivals including a coronavirus test and 14-day quarantine.

Only two soldiers have been infected while stationed on the divided peninsula, and both have recovered.

“Despite the confirmed case, USFK remains at a high level of readiness with four active duty service members who are currently confirmed positive for COVID-19,” it said.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

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