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Cluster infection in Cheorwon unit prompts strengthened military guidelines Updated: 2020-11-24 10:53:31 KST

Let's turn back to local infections now.
One recent cluster INVOLVES THAT at a military base AND I have our defense correspondent Kim Ji-yeon here in the studio.
Welcome Ji-yeon.
Do start us off with the latest outbreak at the base.

Sure.
Seoul's defense ministry reported a total of 33 new COVID-19 cases in the military.
The majority of new infections occurred at a military unit in Cheorwon, which is about a two-hour drive from the capital, and is located near the frontlines at the inter-Korean border.
The new infections from the unit were confirmed through massive testings of around 600 service members which were conducted after the first index case was reported.
The full test results are yet to be released, so additional cases could be reported in the coming days.
The epidemiological links of the recent infections are still unclear.
But since the unit is next to Pocheon, where a dozen infections were reported, following a cluster infection in late July, there are speculations that infections there, may have spread to the nearby unit in Cheorwon.
Since the start of the outbreak, the military has seen a total of 263 cases, of which 175 have recovered and 88 are still in treatment.
One,710 service members are in isolation in accordance to the health authorities' guidelines, and two,419 others have also been put in quarantine as part of the military's tougher guidance.

And Ji-yeon you were saying new restrictions have been put into place to tackle this latest outbreak.

Yes. As of Tuesday, the military has ordered all senior military personnel nationwide to avoid social gatherings after work and during weekends, and to stay home during off-duty hours, unless they're going to a hospital or getting food and other essential supplies.
This is equivalent to level two social distancing guidelines.
The move comes amid criticisms that a high number of infections in the military, stem from senior personnel, who were given more leeway to engage in social gatherings.
This is in contrast to service members of lower rank and cadets who must follow strict guidelines, and have been impacted the most by cancellations in leave and off-base activities following infections.

(Korean, Nov. 23) (11/23 ebriefing )
"Infections among soldiers returning from leave have been confirmed at four to date which account for only six percent of the total cases in the military. We're enhancing our measures due to the fact that most of the cases comprise of senior personnel or public officials.

Regardless, in regions where level two social distancing is in effect, such as the Seoul Metropolitan Area, service members are under the new level two social distancing measures, which means they are prohibited from taking vacations starting today for the next two weeks.
One-day trips to "safe" regions where there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in a week will be allowed, but only if permission is granted by a commanding officer.

I hear U.S. Forces Korea has also released a statement on new infections among American service members stationed here.

That's right, in a statement released Monday, it confirmed 22 USFK-affiliated individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Korea between November 5th and November 20th.
A total of 11 service members and their dependents arrived at Osan Air Base on U.S. government chartered flights earlier this month, and the rest have arrived on international commercial flights at Incheon Airport.
All of the incoming service members and affiliated individuals who have tested positive, have been transferred to an isolation facility at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in Pyeongtaek and Osan Air Base.
There's little risk of a cluster emerging from these new cases since they have engaged in limited contact after arrival.
Since the outbreak, the USFK has reported 368 cases so far.
Despite the recent surge in new infections, the USFK says it continues to maintain a robust combined defense posture to protect South Korea against any threat or adversary while maintaining prudent preventive measures.

Thank you Ji-yeon for that report.
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