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US service member tests positive for coronavirus after flying to South Korea

Passengers exit a Patriot Express flight at Osan Air Base, South Korea, June 10, 2020.

MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 18, 2020

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SEOUL, South Korea — A member of the Air Force has tested positive for the coronavirus after flying to South Korea from the United States for a new assignment, the military said Thursday.

The confirmation raised to 35 the total number of cases affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea, a quarter of which have been troops traveling to the peninsula from abroad.

The service member was tested and went into mandatory quarantine after arriving Monday at Osan Air Base on a government-chartered flight from the United States, USFK said in a press release.

“Since testing positive, the airman has been moved to Osan’s isolation facility designated for confirmed COVID-19 cases,” it said. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

USFK health professionals determined there was limited need for contact tracing because everybody on the Patriot Express had been tested and immediately quarantined for at least two weeks, according to procedures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

People in quarantine or isolation also must receive a negative test before being released.

The airman’s quarantine room had been thoroughly cleaned, USFK said.

“Despite the confirmed case, USFK remains at a high level of readiness with two active duty service members — all of the recent confirmed cases have been declared recovered — who are currently confirmed positive for COVID-19,” the command said.

USFK has reported 35 coronavirus cases since an outbreak began in South Korea in February. Those included 11 active-duty service members, but only two troops were infected while in South Korea.

The others arrived in recent weeks after being approved for travel as exceptions to a Defense Department stop-movement order. Most USFK personnel arrive aboard the Patriot Express, which requires passengers to wear masks and maintain social distance.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

 

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