An American soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus, the U.S. military announced Wednesday, in what is the first confirmed case of a servicemember contracting the new disease.
What are the details?
The patient is a 23-year-old male stationed at Camp Carroll near the southeastern city of Daegu. According to a statement issued by United States Forces Korea, the soldier "is currently in self quarantine at his off-base residence."
The command said that "health professionals are actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed," adding, "USFK is implementing all appropriate control measures to help control the spread of COVID-19 and remains at risk level 'high' for USFK peninsula-wide as a prudent measure to protect the force."
The Daily Mail reported that South Korea announced the same day that the country has 1,146 cases of COVID-19, which means it has "the biggest outbreak outside mainland China." China has reported more than 2,700 deaths due to coronavirus, with another 78,000 confirmed cases of infection.
The U.S. currently has around 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, as a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
Fox News reported that "American and South Korean officials are considering restricting joint military exercises over concerns about the virus."
Also on Tuesday, U.S. health officials warned that America must prepare for the coronavirus reaching epidemic levels at home.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Nancy Messonnier said in a briefing, "As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder."
According to the Washington Post, Ms. Messonier went on to explain that two out of three measures for a "pandemic of new disease" have already been met, adding, "It's not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses. Disruption to everyday life might be severe."