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USFK again extends public health emergency status over coronavirus

Defense 13:27 May 23, 2020

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) Commander Gen. Robert Abrams has renewed the military's public health emergency over the new coronavirus for another 90 days to maintain the necessary authority for implementing anti-virus measures, his office said Saturday.

USFK first declared the Public Health Emergency over the COVID-19 virus on May 25 and extended the status for another month on April 24. The latest extension will keep the measure in effect through Aug. 20.

"The renewed PHE enables the Commander to maintain authorities needed during COVID-19 such as administering testing and quarantine measures for all USFK-affiliated personnel," USFK said in a Facebook post.

It also allows USFK to remain a prioritized military unit for receiving the U.S. defense department's critical protective equipment and supplies, and gives its commanders the authority to ensure all of its members adhere to its preventive measures.

The extension, however, does not mean there are any changes to its current health protection conditions or preventive measures being taken, it added.

Earlier this week, USFK lowered its Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level by one notch to the second-lowest Bravo from Charlie, allowing its personnel to eat at restaurants, go shopping and do other off-base activities, except for those stationed in Seoul and nearby regions. All bars, clubs and other adult-only establishments are still off limits across the country.

So far, USFK has reported 28 cases of the new coronavirus among its force, including four active-duty service members.

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 this photo provided by U.S. Forces Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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