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(LEAD) 21 USFK-affiliated people test positive for new coronavirus

Defense 17:18 December 21, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead with latest info; UPDATES throughout)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- Fifteen American service members, five family members and one U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) retiree tested positive for the new coronavirus upon arrival in South Korea from the United States over the past few weeks, the USFK said Monday.

Of them, five service members arrived at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, on U.S. government-chartered flights between Nov. 29 and Dec. 19, according to the U.S. military.

Ten other service personnel, five dependents and one USFK retiree arrived on commercial flights at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, it added.

Fourteen of them tested positive on their first mandatory COVID-19 test prior to entering quarantine, and the remainder were confirmed to have contracted the virus on their second mandatory test, according to the USFK.

All USFK-affiliated individuals arriving in South Korea are required to undergo a virus test and quarantine for 14 days. Medical personnel administer a second test prior to their release.

"Thorough cleaning of all transportation assets and quarantine rooms has been completed," USFK said in a statement. "None of the new arrivals have interacted with anyone residing within USFK installations or the local community."

On Sunday, the U.S. military said that a South Korean employee at Camp Humphreys has tested positive for the new coronavirus. He last visited the base on Wednesday.

The contractor was in isolation at his off-installation home, waiting to be transferred to a medical facility designated for virus patients, according to USFK.

The total number of coronavirus cases among the USFK-affiliated population rose to 464, most of whom have tested positive upon arrival in South Korea from the U.S.

Amid a resurgence of infections in South Korea, USFK raised its health protection level for all areas in the country to the third-highest level of Charlie in its five-tier system Saturday.

In this February file photo provided by the U.S. Forces Korea, 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. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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