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The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, reported 171,452 new cases from the previous day.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, reported 171,452 new cases from the previous day. (Pexels)

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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Coronavirus cases among U.S. military forces in South Korea fell again over the past seven-day period as COVID-19 continued to post record-high figures across South Korea on Wednesday.

U.S. Forces Korea on Tuesday reported 119 infections for the week ending the same day. That’s 43 fewer cases than recorded Feb. 8-14 and 34 fewer than the prior week.

USFK, whose population is over 90% fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, also reported declining case numbers every week in January. Approximately 28,500 U.S. service members are stationed in South Korea.

Meanwhile, infections in South Korea have soared. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday reported 171,452 new cases from the previous day. The previous record, 109,823, occurred on Feb. 17.

The dramatic uptick of cases prompted Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum to call for calm.

“Let us be clear, we don’t have to be too afraid or have fear of the number of confirmed cases as we did in the past,” he said in public remarks on Wednesday.

The nation’s medical system “can competently respond” to the influx of new cases and the number of severe infections can be “comparatively” managed, Kim said.

"The people may have confidence,” he said. “We should not lose awareness of anti-epidemic prevention measures and the implementation of the guidance for COVID-19.”

Over 87% of South Korea’s 51 million people have received the first dose of a vaccine and nearly 60% received a booster shot as of Tuesday, according to the KDCA.

Gyeonggi, the country’s most populous province, counted 53,524 new cases and Seoul counted 41,389, according to the KDCA. South Korea has reported more than 2.3 million infections and 7,607 related deaths since January 2020.

South Korea’s government loosened social distancing restrictions on Friday and allowed some businesses, including restaurants, cafes, gyms and karaoke clubs, to operate an extra hour until 10 p.m.

Private gatherings are still limited to six people, regardless of vaccination status.

USFK personnel are required to adhere to South Korea’s policies, as well as directives given by the command and individual commanders. USFK allows service members, their families and civilian employees to dine in off-base restaurants and visit shopping malls.

However, USFK personnel are still prohibited from traveling to Seoul except for official duties or to visit the Dragon Hill Lodge, a hotel at Yongsan Garrison.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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