SEOUL, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea will postpone their annual joint military training exercises over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, their combined command announced on Thursday.
"The containment efforts for COVID-19 and the safety of [South Korean] and U.S. service members were prioritized in making this decision," the Combined Forces Command said in a statement. The CFC, part of United States Forces Korea, has operational control over more than 600,000 active-duty military personnel from both countries.
The announcement comes one day after the first American soldier tested positive for COVID-19. The 23-year-old man was stationed at Camp Carroll, located about 12 miles from the southeastern city of Daegu, and remains under self-quarantine, the military announced.
In addition to Camp Carroll, the soldier also visited nearby Camp Walker, and officials are "conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed," USFK said Wednesday.
Earlier this week, the military announced that a USFK dependent, a 61-year-old woman, tested positive for COVID-19 and raised its risk level to "high" peninsula-wide.
The South Korean military has reported 21 cases of the coronavirus among its personnel and has placed roughly 9,500 soldiers under quarantine.
The CFC said that the decision to postpone the training was "not taken lightly" and that it was originally suggested by General Park Han-ki, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. U.S. General Robert Abrams, who commands the USFK, agreed to the postponement.
South Korea is battling an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, which have been centered around Daegu, a city of 2.5 million, and its surrounding areas.
On Thursday morning, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 334 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country's overall total to 1,595.