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(2nd LD) One more soldier tests positive for coronavirus, total at 38

All News 17:22 March 11, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS defense chief's comments in paras 10-11, photo)

SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- An Army soldier tested positive for the new coronavirus after his mother working at a virus-plagued call center in Seoul was confirmed to have been infected, the defense ministry said Wednesday.

The new case brought the total number of confirmed cases in the military to 38.

The private first class, who commutes to his unit in Seoul rather than living at barracks, is the first service member in the capital city to have the virus.

Of the total military coronavirus cases, 21 were in the Army, 13 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 ministry.

Thirty-three COVID-19 patients are active-duty service members and the remaining five are civilians working for the military, it added.

As a preventive step, around 2,580 service members are quarantined at their bases. Of them, around 260 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 virus-hit foreign nations, including China.

As of Tuesday, South Korea had 7,755 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including 60 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Service members carry out disinfection work on March 9, 2020, around an apartment building in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, after it was designated as a cohort-isolation facility when scores of residents, mostly followers of a minor Christian sect, there were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. (Yonhap)

The Republic of Korea Navy Academy, located in the southeastern city of Changwon, held a scaled-back commencement and commissioning ceremony on the day without inviting the new officers' parents or other family members as a precaution against the virus.

Instead, the ceremonies were broadcast live via social network service platforms, according to the Navy.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo called on service personnel to "make all efforts" against the new coronavirus as well as to maintain watertight readiness posture to protect the lives and the safety of the people.

"While implementing all measures to stem the infectious disease, it is necessary to carry out planned education programs and drills in accordance of each unit's conditions, and to stage joint exercises in an adjusted manner to maintain strong combat capabilities," Jeong said when he visited the Navy Submarine Force Command in Changwon.

The ministry mobilized around 2,200 service personnel and officials, including over 440 medical staff, to support the government's anti-virus efforts.

The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) also decided to send social workers serving alternative military service to pharmacies to help sell or package face masks for smooth distribution.

Public anger has been mounting over the shortage of masks and the inconvenience of getting them, and pharmacists have also complained about heavy burdens on them after being designated as one of a few official selling channels.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (L) presides over a video conference with Navy commanders in the Navy Submarine Force Command in the southeastern city of Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on March 11, 2020, in this photo provided by his office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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