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(LEAD) Pentagon sends extra medical personnel, gear to U.S. troops in S. Korea

Defense 06:06 March 03, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details, background in paras 3, 7-10)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Yonhap) -- The Pentagon has sent additional medical personnel and equipment to its troops in South Korea to help fight the coronavirus outbreak there, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said Monday.

Milley said the personnel and supplies were sent at Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's direction and included masks, gloves and gowns.

"Priority distribution" is going to South Korea, he said at a joint press briefing with Esper. The general noted that the allies have already postponed combined military exercises scheduled for this month due to concerns about the spread of the virus.

This AFP photo shows U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (L) and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, holding a press conference in the briefing room at the Pentagon in Washington on March 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

U.S. Forces Korea has reported four COVID-19 infections, the latest in the spouse of an American soldier.

Esper said testing on the 28,500-strong forces is ongoing, "given the numbers there."

South Korea has seen a continued rise in the number of confirmed cases, with 4,335 infections and 28 deaths as of Monday.

The same day, Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, inspected an American base in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of the outbreak in South Korea.

The visit came two days after the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for the city to the highest level, urging Americans not to travel there.

The rest of South Korea has remained under the second-highest "Level 3," which means "reconsider travel."

USFK has separately implemented various measures to contain the spread of the virus, such as by enhancing entry control and limiting non-mission-essential meetings as well as off-installation travel by its personnel.


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