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(3rd LD) USFK reports 2 more coronavirus cases, Camp Humphreys under partial lockdown

All News 13:55 March 27, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead with more cases; ADDS more details throughout)
By Oh Seok-min and Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Forces Korea reported two additional cases of the coronavirus Friday, bringing the total number of infections among its population to 12 and enforced a partial lockdown of the Pyeongtaek garrison.

The latest patients are a female American soldier stationed at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, and an American civilian contractor who also works at the garrison, according to the military.

The soldier is the second U.S. service member stationed in South Korea to have contracted the virus, and is currently in isolation at a barracks inside the camp designed to house the new coronavirus patients, USFK said

"She last reported for work and visited various Camp Humphreys' locations on March 26," USFK said in a release.

The U.S. contractor last visited the garrison Tuesday and is quarantined at his off-base residence, it said in a separate release.

"USFK is actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed and is thoroughly cleaning all the known locations visited," it said.

Seen here is a gate of the U.S. base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul. The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said in a tweet on March 8, 2020, that 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. (Yonhap)

Following the latest revelations, the military has taken "extra precautionary measures," such as shutting down several facilities, including halting public transportation, and restricting all movement except for mission essentials and basic needs.

"All movement aboard Camp Humphreys is restricted to only the bare necessities - food, life/health/safety," USFK said, uploading the list of facilities that were closed down starting early Friday until further notice.

USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams once again called on all of its members to be on "hyper vigilance" and strictly adhere to anti-virus measures, warning against complacency.

Referring to its 10th COVID-19 patient, the commander said the Department of Defense contractor did not follow the military's strong recommendations for limiting off-installation activities. He is an American citizen working for USFK and was confirmed to have the virus Tuesday.

"We had four to five other documented instances, of non-service members, generally not complying with our strong recommendations and that was really the impetus behind declaring a public emergency," Abrams said on a radio program of American Forces Network (AFN) Korea.

"I am willing to do everything possible in my authority to prevent the spread of this virus on our bases, into our formations and into our families," he said.

USFK remains at a level of "high" risk across the peninsula and is implementing diverse control measures to stop the spread of the virus. On Wednesday, Abrams also declared a public health emergency, which was meant to ensure commanders' authorities to issue related guidance and enforce compliance, according to his office.

South Korea added 91 virus patients Friday to bring the total to 9,332 cases, including 139 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (KCDC).

A military guard at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, 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)



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