The U.S. Army has ordered a halt to the movement of troops and their families into and out of Italy and South Korea as part of its response to the novel coronavirus.
U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement on Sunday that the Army had ordered “all Army soldiers and family members moving to or from South Korea" to postpone their travel due to concerns about the coronavirus, which has infected thousands in the country. The order also applies to soldiers scheduled to attend professional military education in the U.S.
The announcement was made shortly after the Army unveiled an identical measure for troops stationed in Italy. U.S. Army Garrison Italy commander Col. Dan Vogel said in a Facebook video message Saturday that the halt to movement would take place "for the next 60 days or until further notice."
U.S. Forces Korea said its order only applied to Eighth Army soldiers on permanent change of station orders or attending the education courses. It is expected to be in effect until May 6. Stars and Stripes first reported on the Army orders.
Seven people with ties to the U.S. military in South Korea have reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus. The U.S. European Command has also confirmed that one American stationed in Naval Support Activity Naples has tested positive for the virus, Stars and Stripes noted.
The orders arrive amid a sustained increase in coronavirus cases in Italy and South Korea. Italy has reported more than 5,800 confirmed cases of the disease, while South Korea has reported more than 7,300, according to a database managed by John's Hopkins University.
Italy has the highest number of confirmed cases outside Italy, and the outbreak has led to closures of businesses and schools in the northern part of the country. The Italian government is reportedly planning to lock down the entire Lombardy region of Italy as part of its efforts to contain the virus.