(ATTN: UPDATES with military tally in last 3 paras)
SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) -- An Army artillery school in southwestern South Korea has reported large-scale coronavirus infections among its soldiers, local health authorities said Saturday.
Sixteen soldiers undergoing training or stationed at the Sangmudae Artillery School in Jangseong, 310 kilometers south of Seoul, were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday after an Army officer from the same compound tested positive for the virus the previous day, the authorities said.
All of the 16 new patients had come into contact with the officer, they said.
The officer reportedly visited Seoul from Nov. 12-15 before returning to the artillery school to receive training, they said, adding he displayed coronavirus symptoms, such as paralysis of the sense of smell, beginning Monday.
Soon after the officer's infection was confirmed, the artillery school conducted COVID-19 tests for all 296 soldiers on the compound and 29 civilians allegedly exposed to the first patient. All the civilians had negative results.
Earlier this week, the military enforced a tighter social distancing scheme banning troops from vacationing and taking off-installation trips after cluster outbreaks took place at several barracks nationwide.
The defense ministry said the cumulative number of coronavirus infections in the military rose to 367 as of Saturday. Of them, 181 are still undergoing medical treatment, with the remaining 186 released from treatment.
At an Army base in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, all 900 troops and others are currently being tested for the coronavirus after three officers there were recently found to be infected.
Since Wednesday, 66 newly enlisted soldiers and four officers have tested positive for COVID-19 at an Army boot camp in Yeoncheon, northeast of Seoul.
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