February 25, 2020 13:00
The U.S. Forces Korea went on high alert for coronavirus on Monday after a USFK dependent recently tested positive for the virus.
The USFK on Monday said the wife of a retired soldier living in Daegu has "tested positive for COVID-19. The patient, a 61-year old female, visited Camp Walker's Post Exchange" twice in February.
The USFK has already limited temporary-duty travel and assignments to Camp Walker in Daegu, and the school on the base was closed on Feb. 20.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised the travel advisory for Korea to the highest level on Monday, recommending that Americans "avoid all nonessential travel" to Korea.
The CDC "recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to [Korea]. There is a widespread, ongoing outbreak of... coronavirus that can be spread from person to person," it said. "There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas."
Meanwhile, six more Korean soldiers tested positive for the virus on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the Korean military to 13. Military authorities worry that secondary infections in the ranks could be a prelude to massive infections.
"No one can even guess at this point how many more soldiers will test positive," a military spokesman said. "Therefore, we have no choice but to focus on taking the strongest possible preventive measures."
On Monday, the military suspended all outdoor training and ordered units conducting field training to return to their barracks as soon as possible.
No soldiers in the frontline area have been infected yet, but authorities are now ready for all contingencies.
It is unclear whether joint Korea-U.S. drills will proceed in March as scheduled. The drills have an enormous impact on the Korean military's preparedness, even though being mere computer-simulation command-post exercises.
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