WASHINGTON, D.C./SEOUL – The restrictions were placed on the largest American military base abroad after an American soldier tested positive for coronavirus raging in South Korea, which became the second-hardest hit by the outbreak after mainland China. The new disease control measures were implemented after the risk level was raised to “high”, United States Forces Korea (USFK) announced.
According to The Financial Times, all garrisons were placed under lockdown, including Camp Humphreys located 70km (43,5 miles) from South Korea’s capital Seoul, which is the largest American military base on foreign soil. Civilian employees and “non-essential” contractors can now be barred from entering the bases, and health screenings were increased.
The changes came after an American soldier, a United States Forces Korea (USFK) employee and another “USFK-related person” tested positive for COVID-2019. The USFK comprises of more than 28,500 servicemen, making it the largest concentration of American troops in a single foreign country.
Hundreds of new coronavirus cases were reported in South Korea on Friday, bringing the number of affected patients there to over 2,300. South Korea is now the second hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak after mainland China, where the virus originated.
Earlier this week, the United States announced it would merely postpone its wargames with South Korea as concerns continued to grow over the spread of the coronavirus. The combined command announced an upcoming “command post-training” conducted by members of the two militaries’ Combined Forces Command will be postponed “until further notice”, World News reported.
The joint military drills were scheduled to be held in March. The announcement came after the United States military reported its first case of the coronavirus on Wednesday in a 23-year-old soldier based near the South Korean city of Daegu. The South Korean military also reported a number of infections among its troops. Recent developments likely mean the joint military drills will be canceled altogether.