Defense

First US service member with coronavirus cleared after seven-week isolation

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The first U.S. service member to test positive for the coronavirus has been declared virus-free after seven weeks of isolation, U.S. Forces Korea said Thursday.

The 23-year-old male soldier was cleared to leave isolation after being asymptomatic for more than a week, being fever-free without using medicine, testing negative for the virus on two tests taken 24 hours apart and being cleared by military medical providers, U.S. Forces Korea said in a news release.

The soldier is now at his off-base home near Camp Carroll in South Korea and is waiting for a decision on when he will return to duty, the release added.

The soldier was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on Feb. 26 and his wife tested positive for the virus two days later.

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has had only two active-duty service members test positive for the virus out of the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, while 22 other cases have been reported among dependents, contractors and civilians.

“USFK remains at a high level of readiness with only two active duty service members who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, and continues to maintain a robust combined defense posture to protect the Republic of Korea against any threat or adversary while maintaining prudent preventive measures to protect the force,” the news release said.

In addition to the soldier cleared Thursday, 10 U.S. and Korean dependents and civilians connected to USFK have been declared virus-free since March 15, the release added.

The pace of infections in South Korea in general has slowed significantly since the outbreak began, with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting only 22 new cases Thursday.

Just four of those cases were in Daegu, which was South Korea’s main hot spot for the virus.

Noting the “hard work” of the city, USFK has removed Daegu from its list of hot spots off-limits to nonessential personnel. But U.S. service members across South Korea remain barred from most off-base activities regardless.

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