COVID-19 cases were reported in the 34th contingent of the Cheonghae Unit, Munmu the Great (DDH-976), off Gulf of Aden on an anti-piracy mission since March. There are growing concerns about mass infection as some 300 service members aboard departed, not vaccinated, and as many as 80 members show COVID-19 symptoms.
The military has come under fire for neglecting the safety of military troops serving their country far away from home by failing to take proper quarantine measures against COVID-19 before their departure.
Six service members among those who exhibited cold symptoms on Saturday in the Cheonghae Unit off Africa took PCR tests on Tuesday and tested positive for the virus on Thursday, said the military. On Tuesday night, one military officer showed pneumonia symptoms, sent to a local hospital. He reportedly tested negative in the first diagnosis test. The unit plans to isolate confirmed cases and 80 members with symptoms separately in the vessel and complete PCR tests on all servicemen as soon as possible. "The officer in hospital stays in good condition, and those with symptoms show minor such as a sore throat,” said a military insider.
In a staff conference on Thursday morning, President Moon Jae-in ordered an aerial refueling and transport aircraft to be promptly deployed to transfer quarantine staffs, health service providers and equipment for quarantine and treatment to the dispatched service members, according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mi’s written briefing.