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USFK limits soldiers' travel to Daegu, closes several facilities amid surge in coronavirus cases

All News 11:25 February 20, 2020

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has banned "non-essential" travel to and from South Korea's southeastern city of Daegu and shut down all of its children-related facilities there in the wake of a surge in new coronavirus cases in the region.

Since Wednesday, South Korea has confirmed more than 50 additional cases of the COVID-19 virus, and a majority of the newly confirmed patients are from Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and its surrounding North Gyeongsang Province, according to Seoul's health authorities. The total figure of confirmed cases stood at 82 as of Thursday.

A patient suspected of carrying the new coronavirus, COVID-19, arrives at Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Feb. 19, 2020. (Yonhap)

"All service member's non-essential travel to and from Daegu will be prohibited, and off-installation travel minimized; I highly request all family members, civilians and contractors do likewise regarding their travel as well," USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said, according to a release updated on Wednesday.

"All USAG-Daegu and Area IV schools, child development centers and child and youth services activities will be closed Thursday, and we will make a decision regarding a Friday closure tomorrow," he added. USAG means U.S. army garrison.

Visitors who are not performing essential missions or official business will be denied access to its military installations in Daegu for 24 hours from Thursday, and the directive is to be reassessed every 24 hours, according to the military.

USFK also implemented self-quarantine measures on all service members who have attended the New World Church, also known as Shinchoenji Gyohoe, since Feb. 9, while recommending the same measures for their family members, civilians and contractors.

Most of the newly confirmed patients in Daegu were found to have attended the same religious services as the country's 31st COVID-19 patient, which were held in Daegu earlier this month.

"I want to emphasize the care and well-being of our Daegu service members, families and civilians is a top priority of mine," Abrams said, calling for good hygiene practice as the best way to control the spread of virus.

No confirmed or suspected cases among U.S. service members and their family members have been reported so far, according to USFK officials.

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Robert Abrams speaks during a press interview on Sept. 13, 2019, in this photo provided by his office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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