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U.S. military in South Korea confirms ninth COVID-19 patient

U.S. military in South Korea confirms ninth COVID-19 patient
U.S. Forces Korea confirmed a ninth patient on base on Tuesday. The base is located near Daegu, where this subway platform was near empty last month. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

March 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. military in South Korea confirmed a ninth patient of COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to local press reports.

The JoongAng Ilbo reported Tuesday the patient, a South Korean national employed at Camp Walker, tested positive for the virus. Previous patients confirmed for the new strain of coronavirus were U.S. military employees or their families. On Tuesday, U.S. Forces Korea said only one of the confirmed COVID-19 patients on U.S. bases is a U.S. soldier.

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Seoul's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USFK are conducting investigations into whether the ninth U.S. military patient had close contact with other people, Yonhap reported. The base is located near the central South Korean city of Daegu, the site of the country's largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in February.

Last month, the U.S. military had raised the risk level of visiting Daegu and North Gyeongbuk Province to "high," following the massive outbreak in the region.

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The U.S. military has also named Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, a "hot spot" of the epidemic. The military has proposed relocating all USFK employees out of Cheonan, according to Yonhap.

Daegu was the center of national attention following the spread of the disease among members of secretive religious sect Shincheonji. More infections are being reported in Seoul this week, however.

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A call center in a southwestern area of the South Korean capital is now the biggest infection cluster, according to Yonhap on Tuesday.

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The coronavirus spread among employees on the 11th floor of an office building. None of the employees were wearing masks, Seoul said.

"All 207 workers have been quarantined, and inspections are taking place. This is the biggest infection reported in Seoul so far, and we are looking at this in a serious and grave manner and striving to prevent additional cases," Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said.

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