Seoul-Washington-delay-joint-drills-over coronavirus
Seoul and Washington decided to delay its joint military exercises to help contain the novel coronavirus, which spreads fast in South Korea. Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea Air Force

First COVID-19 case confirmed related to U.S. forces in Korea

Washington decided to put off its joint exercises with Seoul for the next few months amid the fast spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in South Korea.

In a joint press conference on Thursday, South Korean and U.S. military officers said that their joint drills during the first half of this year will be postponed until further notice.

They said that South Korea proposed the delay, which was accepted by the United States. It marks the first time for the two sides to delay military drills due to an epidemic.

They also plan to put many troops in quarantine while shutting down base facilities. Despite the measures, they said that the two-way alliance remains iron-clad and unbreakable.

The announcement came a day after an American service member here tested positive for COVID-19, the first infection related to U.S. forces in Korea.

The 23-year-old is stationed at Camp Carroll, near Daegu, where most of the country’s coronavirus cases are clustered.

South Korea has seen hundreds of new COVID-19 infections a day, with numbers approaching 1,600 confirmed cases on Thursday. The country has the second-largest cluster of COVID-19 outside China, where the outbreak started in December.

In particular, around 20 South Korean soldiers were infected by the highly-contagious viral virus.

To deal with the belligerent North Korean regime, South Korea maintains the 600,000-strong military. The United States stations 28,500 troops in the country.


This article is provided by UPI News Korea. _ ED.