Among the 301 crew members on the Munmu the Great destroyer of the 34th contingent of the Cheonghae unit dispatched to Africa, 247 crew members, or 82.1 percent of them, were tested positive for COVID-19. This is the worst-case scenario in which most soldiers in an overseas-dispatched vessel are infected with the virus.
This is the biggest mass infection in the military since its first case last year. It is also about twice the size of recent infections at the Korea Army Training Center in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province with over 110 cases. Based on the share of infection among crew members, it is also the worst case of COVID-19 infection in a single military vessel, both domestically and internationally. The status of the Cheonghae unit as the “heroes of the Gulf of Aden” for rescuing all crew members of a tanker, Samho Jewelry, abducted by Somalian pirates in 2011 is at risk. Many people are demanding that the military leadership should be held responsible for the unprecedented mass infection caused by unvaccinated troops dispatched overseas.
According to the military authorities on Monday, additional 179 members of the 34th contingent were tested positive for COVID-19 PCR tests, increasing the total number of confirmed patients to 247. The rest of the 50 members were tested negative and four test results were ambiguous. Starting with seven cases on Thursday, when the first patient was confirmed, additional 61 and 179 members were tested positive on Sunday and Monday, respectively. “Those who were tested ambiguous or negative can turn out to be positive later,” said a military official.
Currently, a total of 16 members are hospitalized, including one additional member. Two out of three patients who were under intensive care for the symptoms of pneumonia got better and continued intensive care is being provided to the remaining patient, said a military official.
Two KC-330 Cygnus multipurpose aerial refueling tankers carrying over 200 members on a special mission arrived Monday afternoon and departed after disease control activities to bring the members of the 34th contingent back home. They will arrive at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday afternoon. “The members of the 34th contingent will be transferred to dedicated medical institutions, residential treatment centers, and isolation facilities right after their arrival,” said a military official.
Sang-Ho Yun firstname.lastname@example.org