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(2nd LD) No. of coronavirus cases in military remains unchanged at 34

All News 18:03 March 06, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with latest figures, defense minister's Daegu visit)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- The military reported no additional cases of the new coronavirus among service personnel for the second straight day on Friday, with the total number of infections remaining unchanged at 34, the defense ministry said.

Of the total COVID-19 cases, 19 were in the Army, 11 in the Air Force, two in the Marine Corps and one each in the Navy and a unit under the direct control of the ministry, it said.

Around 5,020 service members were quarantined at their bases. Of them, around 820 have either shown symptoms or had direct contact with infected patients, while the remainder recently visited the southeastern city of Daegu, its surrounding North Gyeongsang Province or other virus-hit places, such as China.

Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, has been the heart of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, with the number of patients in the city skyrocketing due to a cluster of infections centered on the Shincheonji religious sect.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo visited the city Friday and encouraged soldiers taking part in the government's broader efforts to contain the virus.

"Think of this situation as a quasi-state of war and mobilize all available efforts and resources to do your best in protecting the lives and safety of the people who are having a difficult time to overcome COVID-19," Jeong said.

The minister also visited an air base in the city and called for watertight readiness despite non-military threats, such as the virus, according to the ministry.

As part of efforts to stem the virus from further spreading, the ministry decided to extend an emergency working system for service members stationed in Daegu for about a week under which all non-essential officers should work at home or designated facilities while core personnel are to stay at their bases on-call.

The veterans affairs ministry has canceled a planned ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of a democratic movement that was originally scheduled to take place in the southeastern city of Changwon later this month.

The Korea Army Academy at Yeongcheon also held a scaled-back commencement and commissioning ceremony without the attendance of the new officers' parents.

Meanwhile, the ministry said it will reduce the number of masks it provides to service personnel in line with the government's decision to restrict the purchase of masks amid supply shortages.

Under the measure set to take effect Monday, people can purchase only two face masks per week from pharmacies on designated days of the week depending on their year of birth.

As of Friday, South Korea had reported 6,593 virus cases, including 42 deaths.

A military police officer checks the entry of vehicles into an Army hospital in the southeastern city of Gyeongsan on March 3, 2020. The hospital was asked to make preparations to house people infected with the new coronavirus from March 5. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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