Seoul – U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) said Saturday it has imposed a shelter-in-place order on two of its largest bases — U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan and Camp Humphreys — until Tuesday after a cluster of coronavirus infections.
Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, is the largest U.S. military base overseas, housing the USFK headquarters and thousands of troops, civilian workers, and their family members.
It was not immediately clear how many cases have been reported at the two bases, but USFK said six people tested positive on Friday. The command has been relatively successful in keeping infections down to a handful.
“Out of an abundance of caution to protect the force, we have enacted several measures at both installations to ensure we have the necessary time and resources available to complete our thorough contact tracing,” USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said in a Facebook post on Friday.
The new cluster was reported as COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to U.S. troops in the country.
The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 580 new cases of novel coronavirus infection as of midnight on Friday, bringing total infections to 71,820, with 1,236 deaths.
More than 60% of the domestically transmitted cases have been from Seoul and its neighboring areas, where about half of the nation’s 52 million people live.
South Korea will extend current social distancing guidelines in the densely populated capital and surrounding areas for another two weeks as they have significantly curtailed infections, Yonhap news agency said on Saturday, citing South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun.
While continuing the restrictions, which include a ban on private gatherings of more than four people and shutting down most establishments and shops at 9 p.m., some venues that have been forced to close, such as gyms and karaoke bars, will resume operation if they apply strict prevention measures, Chung said.
South Korea, which has stopped short of a complete lockdown or stay-at-home order, has experienced its biggest wave of infections in recent weeks, with a record 1,241 cases in one day during the Christmas holiday.
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