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(LEAD) 16 people affiliated with USFK test positive for virus

Defense 16:25 February 18, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; UPDATES with additional cases in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- Thirteen U.S. service members and a Department of Defense civilian employee have tested positive for the new coronavirus upon arrival in South Korea in the past month, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Thursday.

Six service members arrived at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on U.S. government chartered flights, while the others arrived here on commercial flights via Incheon International Airport, west of the capital, according to the U.S. military.

Eleven of them tested positive on their first mandatory COVID-19 test prior to entering quarantine, while the three others were confirmed infected on a subsequent test.

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.

In Dongducheon, north of Seoul, a service member tested positive in a screening test conducted as part of the military's enhanced surveillance program.

Separately, the spouse of another service member, who has access to USFK installations, was also confirmed infected last week. She last visited a U.S. military base almost a year ago, it said.

"KDCA and USFK health professionals actively conducted contact tracing to determine whether anyone else were exposed to these individuals, and ensured all known on-post and off-post facilities visited were thoroughly cleaned," the U.S. military said in a release. KDCA stands for the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

The latest cases raised the total number of infections reported among the USFK-related population to 737.

This file photo, taken on Jan. 11, 2021, shows U.S. service members at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)


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