March 26, 2020 12:38
The U.S. Forces Korea has declared a public health emergency for its bases for fear of coronavirus.
The state of emergency will "remain in effect through April 25, unless it is renewed or terminated sooner by the USFK commander," it said in a press release Wednesday.
"With the World Health Organization increasing its world-wide warning to 'very high,' the U.S. Department of State declaring a global level 4 travel advisory -- do not travel -- and the increased exposure potential of COVID-19 in proximity to USFK installations, the USFK commander exercised his authority" to declare the emergency, it added.
"We continually monitor and assess the conditions of COVID-19 in [Korea] and its presence near USFK installations," USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said. He added that he declared the emergency “to ensure I possess the necessary authorities needed to enforce compliance and protect the force."
The USFK said the emergency "does not… indicate an increased risk level on USFK installations."
But the emergency follows the recent deaths of two American soldiers at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
According to the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division, Specialist Clay Welch (20), a combat medic, was found unresponsive in his barracks on Sunday. Medical staff rushed to the scene and declared him dead on the spot. The cause of his death is under investigation. On Saturday, Pvt. 1st Class Marissa Jo Gloria (25), a combat engineer, was also found dead in her barracks in Pyeongtaek.
Ten soldiers have tested positive for coronavirus so far, but the USFK ruled out coronavirus as the cause and said there was no links between the state of emergency and their deaths.
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