US military dependent in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus

US military dependent in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus
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A woman who had visited a store at a U.S. military base in South Korea has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, prompting U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) to raise its risk level to high.

The diagnosis announced Monday marks the first case of coronavirus related to USFK amid an outbreak in South Korea that has infected more than 800 people and prompted President Moon Jae-in to put his country on its highest possible threat alert level.

“South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed United States Forces Korea today that a USFK dependent living in Daegu tested positive for COVID-19, making this the first time a USFK-related individual has tested positive for the virus,” a USFK news release said Monday.

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In the release, USFK said the patient is a 61-year-old woman who visited Camp Walker’s Post Exchange on Feb. 12 and 15.

Camp Walker is in the southeast city of Daegu, which has been the epicenter of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of USFK, added that the woman is the widow of a retired soldier.

“We were saddened to hear of her ... contracting the virus,” Abrams tweeted. “We pray for her recovery.”

USFK and South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are “actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed,” according to the release.

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USFK described raising the risk level from moderate to high as “a prudent measure to protect the force.”

At the high risk level, USFK said, troops can expect limits to non-mission essential in-person meetings, gatherings and temporary duty travel and assignments; longer wait times, possible temperature checks and screening questionnaires at gates to access installations; and limits to off-installation travel or advisories to use extreme caution when traveling off-installation.

“USFK encourages all personnel to continue to practice strict proper hygiene procedures as the best ways to prevent the spread of viruses and protect the USFK population,” a release said.