US Forces Employee in South Korea Tests Positive for Novel Coronavirus, Three Others Die of Virus

US Forces Employee in South Korea Tests Positive for Novel Coronavirus, Three Others Die of Virus
People wait in line to buy face masks from a store at the Dongseongro shopping district in Daegu, South Korea, on Feb. 27, 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang
This article has been updated with the latest information.

A third individual with ties to the U.S. military in South Korea has been determined to be infected with the novel coronavirus disease, while the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced that three additional people died of the virus on Feb. 28.

The country’s total death toll is now 16.

The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) announced on Friday that a male South Korean employee at Camp Carroll tested positive for the virus. The employee had last visited the military base on Feb. 20.

Camp Carroll is located in the village of Waegwan, about 12 miles from the city of Daegu. Daegu is about 186 miles southeast of the capital Seoul.

The man’s wife tested positive for the virus on Feb. 22, and he was immediately put under home quarantine. He is currently in isolation at a hospital in Daegu.

“The patient has not been in contact with any other USFK or USFK affiliated personnel since going into quarantine,” USFK stated.

It added: “KCDC and USFK health professionals determined contact tracing was not necessary due to his quarantine measures and lack of interaction with others.”

Earlier this week, USFK announced that a U.S. military dependent—a 61-year-old woman who is a widow of a retired soldier—was diagnosed with coronavirus. Then on Feb. 25, a 23-year-old U.S. soldier stationed at Camp Carroll was infected with the virus.

Also on Friday, South Korea’s defense ministry reported two more infection cases in its military force.

The two new cases involve a South Korean Air Force officer and an airman based in Cheongju, a city 70 miles southwest of Seoul, local outlet Yonhap News Agency reported.

With the two new cases, there are 27 infection cases in the Korean military—15 in the Army, 10 in the Air Force, and one each in the Navy and the Marine Corps. Among them, 24 are active-duty service members.

Roughly 9,480 military service members are quarantined at their bases, according to the defense ministry. About 920 of them have symptoms of the virus or have come in contact with infected patients, while the rest visited Daegu or nearby areas after Feb. 10.

South Korea saw its number of known cases reach at least 2,337 on Feb. 28, after the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 571 new cases from the previous day.
Since last Friday, South Korea has reported triple digits in new cases every day, most recently 284 reported cases on Wednesday and 505 cases on Thursday.

Of the 571 new cases, 447 are in Daegu and 64 are in the broader North Gyeongsang province. There are six new cases in Seoul and four new cases in the coastal city of Busan.

Among the 2,337 cases, 1,579 are Daegu and 409 in North Gyeongsang province.

Of all the confirmed cases in South Korea, 840 cases are connected to the localized outbreak from Shincheonji Church in Daegu, according to KCDC.

Many of those cases related to the church have been traced back to a 61-year-old female follower of the church who tested positive for the virus on Feb. 18 as the country’s 31st confirmed case.

Now, there are a total of 62 cases of coronavirus in Seoul and 65 in Busan.

Meanwhile, Korean automaker Hyundai Motor has suspended the operation of its plant in the port city of Ulsan until March 2 after one of its employees tested positive for the virus, Yonhap reported on Friday.
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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