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(2nd LD) U.S. Army restricts travel to, from S. Korea over new coronavirus

All News 19:16 March 09, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with latest case tally in para 4-5; ADDS USFK decision to allow personnel to wear masks in para 7)

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Department of the Army has ordered its soldiers and their families to stop movement to and from South Korea amid concerns over the new coronavirus, according to U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).

The order, which will be in effect until May 6 or until further notice, currently applies only to 8th Army soldiers on permanent change of station orders or attending professional military education scheduled in the United States, USFK said in a statement.

"USFK is analyzing the impacts this decision will have on those affected," it said.

The announcement came after a Korean employee at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, tested positive for the new virus last week. That was the first infection reported in Camp Humphreys, where the USFK headquarters is located.

Another Korean worker at Camp Walker in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was confirmed to be infected later in the day. The total number of USFK-infected cases currently stands at eight.

USFK remains on "high" risk level peninsula-wide and is implementing all appropriate control measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus to protect the force, it said.

Related to all measures being taken, military sources said that U.S. troops have been allowed to wear face masks indoors starting late last month. In the past, soldiers in uniform were barred from wearing masks, although this was eased in April 2019 as the country struggled with fine dust air pollution.

As of midnight, South Korea had reported 7,478 virus patients, including 51 deaths.

A military guard at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, checks the temperature of a driver to screen entrants to the compound for the novel coronavirus on Feb. 28, 2020, in this photo provided by United States Forces Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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