SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) on Saturday raised its health protection level against the new coronavirus for all areas in South Korea following the resurgence of the pandemic.
Starting at 12:01 a.m., USFK enforced the Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie, or HPCON C, the third-highest warning level in its five-tier system, as South Korea has seen another wave of the pandemic in recent weeks. Its daily caseload topped the 1,000 mark for the fourth day Saturday.
Under the tougher scheme, only "mission essential" individuals will report for duty, with all others teleworking.
Non-necessary off-post activities are also restricted, such as visiting gyms outside the barracks, clubs, shopping centers and theaters.
HPCON C is likely to be in effect at least throughout the month, as the command said it will make an assessment regarding the warning level early next year.
USFK also highly encouraged its people to avoid travel as much as possible within the country, adding the greater Seoul area and the southern city of Busan remain off-limits except for official and necessary duties.
"Out of an abundance of caution to protect the force, we must maintain the overall health and safety of our community by applying an immediate, aggressive approach to preventing the virus' spread," Abrams said earlier.
Up until Thursday, USFK reported a total of 442 COVID-19 patients, most of whom have tested positive upon arrival in South Korea from the U.S.
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