South Korea’s defense ministry said on Monday that eleven service members have been confirmed to have the new coronavirus as of early Monday, and around 7,700 others are quarantined as part of efforts to stop the virus from spreading further into barracks.
The ministry added that about 350 soldiers were believed to have been in contact with the infected or were showing symptoms, raising fears that the number of new cases could increase sharply in barracks. All military bases in the country have been in lockdown since three soldiers tested positive on Friday.
According to The Korea Herald, eight COVID-19 cases in the Army and one each in the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps were confirmed as of 8 a.m. Monday, up from a total of seven cases the previous day, according to the ministry.
The four newly confirmed soldiers are suspected of having been exposed to the virus after contacting patients inside barracks, according to military officers. South Korea reported the first virus case among its service personnel on Friday.
In the wake of a leap in the number of confirmed cases over the past several days with a cluster of infections linked to a religious group in the southeastern city of Daegu and a hospital in its adjacent country of Cheongdo, the authorities checked all service personnel with a history of visiting the regions or having contact with patients, and they are currently isolating around 7,700 soldiers at their bases.
In stepped-up efforts against the virus, the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) on Monday suspended its examinations of potential conscripts to determine whether they are fit for mandatory military service for the next two weeks.
South Korea’s government raised the coronavirus alert to its highest level after a recent implosion of confirmed infection cases.
Seven people have died in South Korea from the virus, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also noted that North Korea has reportedly quarantined 380 foreigners as part of efforts to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.
The majority of those quarantined are thought to be diplomats stationed in the capital city of Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported Monday, citing state media in North Korea.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said it has had no indication of COVID-19 having spread to North Korea. — Meredith.