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(LEAD) 1,100 soldiers quarantined, outdoor drills modified over new coronavirus: defense ministry

Defense 15:24 February 07, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS Navy chief's visit to unit, clinic in last 2 paras, photo)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- About 1,100 soldiers are quarantined and outdoor military training has been adjusted as part of efforts to contain the new coronavirus, the defense ministry said Friday.

The quarantined soldiers, including 400 conscripts, have either visited China, Hong Kong or Macao in the past 14 days or had contact with people who traveled to those places, according to the ministry.

The figure has risen over the past couple of days, as more service personnel were found to have visited places where patients or those who had close contact with them had been present.

"The measure is part of our preemptive efforts. No confirmed or suspected cases have been reported at barracks," ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told reporters.

As of early Friday, South Korea had 24 confirmed cases.

The military authorities have also adjusted their wintertime drills, which often include loaded marches, to limit the chances of soldiers having contact with civilians, according to the officials.

"We've refrained from carrying out large-scale or long-distance marches. Rather, we've done that in a limited way near each base," an Army officer said.

The Army command had called for such an adjustment but the details can be decided by each unit and it will not affect their readiness posture, he added.

This photo captured from the website of the ROK Marine Corps Education & Training Group on Feb. 6, 2020, shows enlistees on a loaded march. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In order to check the readiness posture against the virus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Sim Seung-seob visited a naval training unit in the southern city of Jinhae and checked anti-virus measures to guarantee draftees' health and safety.

He also looked around a Navy hospital that offers special treatment to coronavirus patients and asked for their continued commitment, according to the Navy.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Sim Seung-seob (L) speaks with service personnel assigned to a clinic for new coronavirus treatment in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang Province, on Feb. 7, 2020, in this photo provided by the Navy. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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