Sailors Return After COVID Outbreak on Anti-Piracy Ship

  • By Yu Yong-weon

    July 21, 2021 12:36

    All 301 crew of the destroyer Munmu the Great were flown back to Korea on Tuesday after a coronavirus outbreak on an anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa.

    Some 266 of the contingent from the Navy's Cheonghae unit tested positive for COVID-19, including the captain and second-in-command.

    The government said at least 14 members had to be hospitalized and three of them have serious symptoms. The remaining 287 were taken to isolation facilities.

    Sailors of the Cheonghae unit wave from a bus to a quarantine facility at a military air base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    None had been vaccinated and all were living at close quarters on the ship, whose ventilation system alone acted like a perfect conduit for the virus.

    Criticism of the Navy is rising. President Moon Jae-in said the military "responded as quickly as possible" by airlifting the sailors out, "but it will be difficult to avoid public criticism for responding ineffectively."

    Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum and Defense Minister Suh Wook apologized to the public on Tuesday.

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