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(2nd LD) Staff sergeant at cyber command in Yongsan tests positive for coronavirus

All News 14:54 May 08, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 6, 8-11; CHANGES photo; Minor edits)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- A noncommissioned officer working at the Cyber Operations Command in Seoul has tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases reported in the military to 40, the defense ministry said Friday.

The staff sergeant working at the command's service support unit contracted the virus after visiting a club in Seoul's popular multicultural neighborhood of Itaewon where a COVID-19 patient visited last week, according to the ministry.

Following the test result early Friday, the military restricted the movement of all service members of the unit, and health authorities are tracing the patient's possible contacts.

The staff sergeant is in quarantine at a military residence.

"Disinfection work will be carried out today, and until tomorrow, some parts of the facilities could be shut down," a ministry official told reporters.

Located at an annex to the main building of the defense ministry, the command is a joint unit that carries out cyber operations under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chief.

The officer visited a hospital Tuesday and Wednesday after feeling ill, but he did not get a recommendation from a doctor to take a coronavirus test, the official said.

Authorities contacted him Thursday and told him to get tested after he was found to have visited one of the five clubs and bars where the coronavirus patient, a resident in Yongin, had visited.

The staff sergeant is one of 13 people confirmed to be infected with the virus Friday in association with the Yongin patient. Officials said at least 1,510 people appear to have visited the five nightlife establishments.

The development has put the authorities, as well as the public, back on high alert for a possibly bigger outbreak amid lax social distancing measures introduced earlier this week.

The military has also been gradually moving to lift restrictions on service members after the number of new cases in the country showed a marked slowdown in recent weeks.

Starting Friday, the military resumed allowing enlisted service members to go on vacation. All enlisted service personnel had been banned from off-base trips since mid-February, after the Navy reported the first COVID-19 infection in barracks.

The ministry earlier said other restrictions, including banning soldiers from staying out and meeting outside visitors, will be eased in phases in consideration of the virus situation down the road.

This photo, taken on May 8, 2020, shows service members at Seoul Station after the military resumed allowing enlisted service personnel to go on vacation earlier in the day. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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