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USFK raises anti-coronavirus warning level in greater Seoul areas after surge in new cases

Defense 15:04 August 15, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 15 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Saturday it has raised the current health protection level against the new coronavirus in Seoul and the surrounding areas to restrict its people's travels and other off-base activities in the wake of a recent surge in fresh cases.

Effective at 6 p.m. Saturday, the USFK heightened the Health Protection Condition Level (HPCON) by one notch to Charlie, or HPCON C, for Area II (+) that encompasses Seoul, the western city of Incheon, and eight districts of Gyeonggi Province until further notice, according to USFK.

Under the revised rules, travel to and within the area is limited to its residents or those conducting official and necessary duties until further notice. Travel will only be allowed after approval by the related authorities.

Other regions will maintain the HPCON B, or Bravo, which allows service members to dine at restaurants, shop offline and conduct outdoor activities as long as they adhere to basic anti-virus guidelines, according to the U.S. military.

The stricter measure came after South Korea's new COVID-19 cases reached a five-month high of 166 Saturday. The spike prompted the country to place stricter social distancing guidelines on Seoul and the metropolitan areas, which bans indoor meetings and outdoor meetings of more than 50 and 100 people, respectively, and shuts down all public facilities, including welfare centers, libraries, art galleries and museums.

"While the USFK community has done a remarkable job keeping COVID-19 out of our formations, installations and communities, we must continue to remain aware of our surroundings and not let down our guard," USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said, according to the release.

"We must remain disciplined, vigilant and adhere to our core health protection measures that have enabled us to achieve our current level of success."

Public officials disinfect a church in Seoul's Seongbuk Ward on Aug. 14, 2020, following the detection of a cluster of new coronavirus infections at the church. The number of daily local virus cases in South Korea reached 103 the same day, jumping to an over four-month high as sporadic clusters in the greater Seoul area piled up. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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