Over 830 People Test Positive for Coronavirus in South Korea, Including US Force Individual

Over 830 People Test Positive for Coronavirus in South Korea, Including US Force Individual
People wearing face masks sit in front of Dongdaegu railway station in the southeastern city of Daegu, South Korea, on Feb. 24, 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang

South Korea on Feb. 24 reported 231 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including a U.S. Forces Korea dependent.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced 70 new cases and one additional death late on Feb. 24. Earlier in the morning, the country reported its seventh death and a rise of 161 new cases from the previous day.

Now South Korea has at least 833 known cases of coronavirus, with eight fatalities.

U.S. Forces Korea announced that it had been informed by the KCDC that the 61-year-old widow of a retired soldier had tested positive for the virus, after visiting the Camp Walker Post Exchange in Daegu on Feb. 12 and 15.

It marks the first time that a U.S. Forces Korea individual has been infected with the virus since South Korea reported its first confirmed case on Jan. 20.

“KCDC and [U.S. Forces Korea] health professionals are actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed,” the announcement stated.

U.S. Forces Korea also raised the risk level to “high” for U.S. personnel in South Korea as a preventative measure.

It is unclear what the woman’s nationality is and whether her case has been included in the total 833 confirmed cases reported by KCDC.

Camp Walker is a U.S. military base in Daegu, which is about 186 miles southeast of the capital Seoul.

South Korea’s defense ministry announced that 13 of its service members have been infected with the virus as of 4 p.m. local time on Feb. 24, according to local outlet Yonhap News Agency.

Of the 13 cases, 10 are in the Army, and one each in the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy.

About 7,500 Korean soldiers have been isolated at their bases. Among them, 350 people either have symptoms of the virus or had direct contact with infected patients, said South Korea’s deputy defense ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-sik.

KCDC also reported two deaths on Feb. 24. According to Yonhap, the eighth death involves a 67-year-old man who tested positive for the virus on Feb. 20 at Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, a county in North Gyeongsang Province. The man had been transferred to Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, where he died a few days later.

The country’s seventh death involves a 62-year-old man who died on Feb. 23 at Daenam Hospital.

Of the eight deaths, six have been connected to Daenam Hospital. According to Yonhap, over 110 people, including nine medical staff at the hospital are infected with the virus.

Of the 231 new cases, 205 are in Daegu and the broader North Gyeongsang Province, and four are in Seoul.

Among the new cases reported on Feb. 24, at least 129 were linked to a super-spreader who attended services at Shincheonji Church. The 61-year-old female and the country’s 31st confirmed case tested positive for the virus on Feb. 18—the first in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said that he will visit Daegu on Feb. 25 to “spearhead” local quarantine measures in person, according to Yonhap.

“Preemptive measures are necessary to prepare for the possibility of [the coronavirus] spreading across the nation,” Chung said.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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