(ATTN: ADDS defense minister's visit to response center at airport in paras 15-16; ADDS photo)
By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has quarantined about 800 soldiers and postponed regular training sessions for reserve forces as part of efforts to contain the new type of coronavirus, defense ministry officials said Monday.
The quarantined soldiers have either visited China or surrounding regions recently, or had contact with such visitors, while the training sessions for reserve forces will be put off for about 50 days, officials said.
The ministry also postponed medical checkups for potential draftees with a record of visits to China.
"Around 800 service members have been quarantined either at their residences or military bases, including around 630 people who had contact with those who traveled China, Hong Kong and Macao recently," ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told a regular briefing.
Previously, the ministry only put in isolation soldiers who visited China or met with such returnees, but it decided to strengthen the measure to preemptively mitigate risk to the military population, the official said.
The incubation period for the novel virus is known to be around 14 days.
The ministry also said the regular training for the country's 2.75 million-strong reserve forces will be held after April 17, though they were scheduled to kick off March 2 across the nation.
"We will notify the people of the details later after rearranging the schedule," the ministry said in a release.
Reservists are required to go through one training session of one to three days per year.
The military also barred family members of new recruits from attending admission ceremonies, effective Sunday.
The Military Manpower Administration postponed checkups for 11 out of 234 potential draftees who are subject to physical checkup this month, as they recently visited China, according to its officials.
As the administration started this year's examination for candidates Monday, it set up a special team against the outbreak, they added.
In order to support government quarantine efforts, the defense ministry plans to mobilize more officials for interpretation services and other administrative affairs, according to spokesperson Choi.
Currently, around 200 military doctors, nurses and other personnel have been sent to 21 checkpoints set up at seaports and airports across the country.
Before leaving for a five-day official visit to India, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo visited a military situation room at Incheon International Airport on Monday and was briefed on the situation regarding the virus and ongoing containment measures.
Jeong asked for the officials' continued commitment and called for extra attention to their own conditions, according to the ministry.
As of Monday morning, South Korea had 15 confirmed cases of the virus, believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. No suspected or confirmed cases have been reported among soldiers.
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