Five more Navy sailors from same vessel test positive for COVID-19

SEOUL-- Five Navy sailors tested positive for the new coronavirus while on the same naval ship, bringing the total caseload from the vessel to 38, the defense ministry said Friday.

Last month, the Navy reported 33 COVID-19 cases among members of the Gojunbong landing ship in the first mass infection on a military vessel.

Of 84 sailors aboard the ship, 51 tested negative and have been in isolation, but five of them were found to have contracted the virus in a test required to exit quarantine, the ministry said.

"We've been enforcing aggressive mitigation measures to protect our service members. As more cases were found, we will take additional necessary steps," a Navy official said.

The military also reported five more COVID-19 cases Friday -- four soldiers and a civilian worker for the Army -- across the nation.

The latest cases raised the total number of infections reported among the military population to 822.

As the military continues the vaccination campaign, Minister Suh Wook and top commanders discussed an option of easing antivirus measures for those who receive shots amid controversy over excessive regulations at the barracks.

Last week, Suh and Army chief Gen. Nam Yeong-shin apologized over criticism that an Army boot camp and some military units violated basic rights of soldiers by enforcing excessive rules, such as restricting their access to bathrooms.

"We will consider ways to ease our quarantine and testing measures in accordance with the progress in the inoculation program, though we will continue to adhere to basic antivirus measures," the ministry said in a release.

The military leaders also checked the progress of the ongoing inoculation campaign for those aged 30 and older and their plans for troops in their 20s.

Up until Thursday, around 92,000 troops and other military workers in their 30s and older received virus vaccines under the military's inoculation campaign, which began last week.

Around 132,000 individuals are subject to the campaign, and about 86.3 percent volunteered, the ministry said, adding that they are to complete the vaccination of this age group by around next week.

"We are working in phases to begin the vaccination of troops in their 20s next month," the ministry said in a release. "We will wrap up the program at the earliest possible date."

Nationwide, South Korea reported 525 more COVID-19 cases, including 509 local infections, raising the total caseload to 126,044, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Source Yonhap News Agency

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