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(LEAD) No. of coronavirus cases in military remains unchanged at 36

All News 14:44 March 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 4, 8-11)

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- The military reported no additional cases of the new coronavirus among its population Monday, with the total number of infections standing at 36.

Of the total COVID-19 cases, 20 were in the Army, 12 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, according to the defense ministry.

As preventive steps, around 2,580 service members are quarantined at their bases. Of them, around 340 have either shown symptoms or had direct contact with infected patients, while the remainder recently visited the southeastern city of Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province or other virus-hit foreign nations, including China.

As of Thursday, South Korea had 7,382 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including 51 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Of the total, more than 90 percent have occurred in Daegu and North Gyeongsang.

Members of the Army Second Operational Command sterilize a retail outlet in Daegu, the epicenter of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, on March 5, 2020, in this photo provided by the command. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) extended the suspension of medical examinations of potential conscripts for another two weeks until March 20. The examinations are meant to determine whether the young men are fit for mandatory military service.

But the enlistment of draftees residing in Daegu and the adjacent county of Cheongdo resumed Monday after the two-week suspension, according to the MMA.

About 320 new enlistees will be quarantined for two weeks at a temporary boot camp and then will be transferred to their bases for training, it added.

In a move to support the government's anti-virus efforts, the ministry on Monday mobilized dozens more service personnel as well as military vehicles to package and distribute face masks to Daegu and North Gyeongsang regions.

South Korea has been struggling with mask shortage problems and has come up with diverse measures to boost its production and ensure their even distribution.

"We are reviewing mobilizing military aircraft to reach remote areas, such as Jeju," the ministry said in a release, citing the country's southern island.

Currently, more than 1,870 soldiers and ministry officials, including 102 military doctors, are assigned to major checkpoints and health facilities across the country for quarantine efforts, according to the ministry.

Boxes carrying face masks are loaded onto a military truck from the Transportation Command at a logistics center in Nonsan, 213 kilometers south of Seoul, on March 9, 2020, in this photo provided by the defense ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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