US Forces Korea reports three more coronavirus cases from US arrivals

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper speaks during a press briefing with Minister of National Defense of South Korea Jeong Kyeong-doo after the Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 15, 2019. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

SEOUL, South Korea — Two newly assigned service members and a dependent tested positive for the coronavirus after traveling to South Korea from the United States on a government-chartered flight, the military said Monday.

The announcement raised to 39 the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea since late February.

More than a third of those were detected as part of a mandatory testing and quarantine process required for all USFK personnel arriving from abroad. The last local infection was reported on April 27.

One service member and his dependent initially tested negative at Camp Humphreys, where they were bused after landing at Osan Air Base aboard the Patriot Express on June 15, USFK said in a press release.

However, they received a positive result on a second test required to exit the two-week quarantine, it said.

Another service member tested positive after landing at Osan Air Base on Thursday. He received the results while in the quarantine barracks at Camp Humphreys, according to USFK.

“Since testing positive, all three individuals have been moved to Camp Humphreys’ isolation barracks designated for confirmed COVID-19 cases,” USFK said, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Military health professionals determined that limited contact tracing was warranted since all passengers aboard the Patriot Express were tested and quarantined. The patients’ quarantine rooms were thoroughly cleaned.

USFK has said that most of the coronavirus patients have recovered and been released. “Despite the confirmed cases, USFK remains at a high level of readiness with only four active duty service members who are currently confirmed positive for COVID-19,” it said.

gamel.kim@stripes.com

Twitter: @kimgamel

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