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22 service members test positive for COVID-19 in South Korea

U.S. Forces Korea announced Tuesday that 22 USFK-affiliated service members tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in South Korea from the United States.

Between Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, 18 service members who arrived at Osan Air Base ultimately tested positive for the virus. Another four who headed to South Korea on commercial flights into Incheon International Airport between Sept. 27 and Oct. 9 also tested positive.

Per USFK policy, all service members arriving in South Korea must undergo a COVID-19 test before being quarantined for at least 14 days. A second COVID-19 test is administered after the two-week period, and those who test positive must enter isolation while those who test negative are released.

As a result, 11 service members tested positive upon their arrival, while the other 11 tested positive on the second COVID-19 test after quarantining for two weeks, USFK said. All have been located to isolation facilities at either Camp Humphreys, Osan Air Base, or Kunsan Air Base.

“USFK health professionals determined contact tracing was limited due to the service members, and all other passengers on the commercial and chartered flights being tested upon arrival, and immediately quarantined without interacting with anybody besides other individuals on their flight or those providing administrative and medical support after their arrival; none of the new arrivals have interacted with anyone residing within USFK installations or the local community,” USFK said in a news release.

Additionally, USFK said its readiness levels remain high because less than 1 percent of USFK’s service members are currently COVID-19 positive.

USFK spokesman Army Col. Lee Peters said the number of cases should not be alarming, given the time span covered in the latest report.

The very first U.S. service member to test positive for COVID-19 was a USFK soldier who tested positive in February. In April, the 23-year-old soldier who stationed at Camp Carroll was declared virus-free after 49 days in isolation.

The Pentagon has reported more than 48,500 cases of COVID-19 among military personnel, and a total of eight service members have died due to the virus. There have also been nearly 11,000 cases among DoD civilians, more than 6,500 cases among dependents, and more than 4,500 cases among contractors, according to the latest Pentagon figures.

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