An American soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. service member infected.
A U.S. military statement said Wednesday that the 23-year-old man is in self quarantine at his off-base residence.
The soldier was originally based in Camp Carroll in a town near the southeastern city of Daegu, where most of South Korea’s virus cases are clustered.
South Korea said Wednesday it had almost 1,150 cases of the new coronavirus, the biggest outbreak outside mainland China.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.
According to The Military Times, the infected soldier was at Camp Carroll between February 21 and 25, and visited neighboring Camp Walker this past Monday.
The same day, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) revealed that a widow of a retired soldier, aged 61, had contracted the virus and had visited Camp Walker’s Post Exchange on February 12 and 15, when she may have been contagious.
The USFK is now conducting ‘contract tracing’ to see who else could have been exposed.
In Daegu, the South Korean government has been mobilizing public health tools to contain the virus.
The country has also reported 11 fatalities from the virus, mostly at a hospital in the county of Cheongdo, near Daegu. Many of the cases have been tied to a Daegu church and authorities were tested its local members.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier called for Americans to be prepared for the illness to spread there, adding new urgency to response efforts that had long focused on China and its Asian neighbors.
‘It´s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen – and how many people in this country will have severe illness,’ Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a call with reporters Tuesday.
At the same time, President Donald Trump insisted that the U.S. was in ‘very good shape’ in regards to the combating the virus – a day after the White House sent lawmakers an urgent $2.5 billion plan to address the deadly worldwide outbreak.
Meanwhile, China on Wednesday reported another 406 cases of the new virus, along with 52 additional deaths, all of them in hard-hit Hubei province and all but 10 in the epicenter of the city of Wuhan.
China has recorded a total of 2,715 deaths from the coronavirus, and 78,064 cases in all.