US military coronavirus toll rises in South Korea but overall cases low
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SEOUL, South Korea — Six more Americans affiliated with the military tested positive for the coronavirus after traveling to South Korea, the military said Thursday, raising its total number of confirmed cases to 139.
Of those infected, five service members arrived at Osan Air Base on a government-chartered flight from the United States on July 20, Saturday and Tuesday, U.S. Forces Korea said.
The other was a Department of Defense civilian employee who arrived on a commercial flight at Incheon International Airport on Saturday, according to the press release.
All six were transferred to isolation facilities on Camp Humphreys or Osan Air Base, and affected transportation assets and quarantine rooms were disinfected, the command said.
The need for contact tracing was considered limited because all passengers arriving in South Korea undergo a strict testing and two-week quarantine process.
“None of the new arrivals have interacted with anyone residing within USFK installations or the local community,” USFK said.
Only two soldiers and 22 other people affiliated with USFK contracted the virus while living in South Korea, with the most recent case reported on April 14.
The vast majority have been troops moving to the divided peninsula for new assignments or returning from trips abroad.
“USFK remains at a high level of readiness with less than 1% of its active duty service members currently confirmed positive with COVID-19,” it said, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
Meanwhile, the overall number of infections in the South remained relatively low, with 43 new cases reported on Thursday, including 23 domestic infections and 20 imported cases.
That raised the total in South Korea to 14,499, with 302 deaths, since its first case on Jan. 20, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The number of patients completely recovered from the virus rose to 13,501, according to the agency. South Korea has conducted more than 1.6 million tests since Jan. 3, it said.