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USFK: Two American soldiers' deaths unrelated to coronavirus

Defense 10:17 March 26, 2020

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) on Thursday dismissed speculation that the recent deaths of two American soldiers stationed here could be related to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the military said that Spc. Clay Welch was found dead in his barracks room at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, three days earlier for unknown reasons, which came on the heels of the death of Private First Class Marissa Jo Gloria also stationed at the camp.

Several local media raised suspicions that the cases might have something to do with COVID-19, pointing to USFK commander Gen. Robert Abrams' declaration of a public health emergency later that day. The commander cited "the increased exposure potential of COVID-19 in proximity to USFK installations" and the U.S. government's issuance of the highest-level travel advisory as reasons for the declaration.

"The investigations are ongoing, but in both cases, COVID-19 has been ruled out. Neither case is related to the coronavirus," USFK said in a brief statement sent to Yonhap News Agency.

As of Thursday, USFK had reported a total of 10 confirmed virus cases, without a fatality. Of them, two patients were from the Pyeongtaek camp, and both are Korean workers for the U.S. military.

Nationwide, South Korea has reported 9,241 cases, including 131 deaths, as of Thursday morning, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

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 the photo provided by United States Forces Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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