The South Korean military announced that it is considering a measure to sift out the individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 as final candidates for overseas deployment in a report submitted to the defense committee on Monday. The latest step appears to be a follow-up action for the mass COVID outbreak that occurred to the 301 unvaccinated sailors onboard the ROKS Munmu the Great warship. For those unvaccinated servicemen already stationed in foreign countries, the South Korean military authorities added that they are considering an onsite vaccination or an early rotation. According to the military, among 1,010 soldiers serving overseas, 56 have yet to get the coronavirus jabs.
“We had a comprehensive review on sending out vaccines to the onsite (where the 34th contingent of the Cheonghae Unit is stationed), but we suffered lack of cooperation from Oman where the warship typically visits,” Defense Minister Seo Wook said during the National Defense Committee on Monday. “Securing vaccines locally from Oman was not an option, and they (Oman) didn’t let us bring South Korean vaccines for the vaccination of our servicemen, and we faced with restrictions in onsite vaccinations.”
The ruling and opposition parties wrangled over a statement from Minister Seo that the Cheonghae Unit executed their mission successfully. Chiming with the defense minister’s remarks, Rep. Ahn Gyu-baek of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea said the outbreak was “beyond control,” claiming that the military is being bullied for minor mistakes and that mistakes are part of work-level operations. To that, lawmakers Seong Il-jong and Shin Won-shik of the People Power Party retorted it is simply wrong that the commanders are reporting a success to the public out of this quarantine failure, calling it “a historic shame for South Korea in the history of world naval warfare.”
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