After dozens of soldiers on board tested positive for the coronavirus, South Korea will airlift all troops from a ship on anti-piracy patrol in the Middle East, the Ministry of Defense said on Sunday, while a replacement team will steer the vessel back home.
South Korea, which was formerly regarded as a success example for keeping COVID under control, is now dealing with record infections as the more transmissible Delta strain spreads throughout the country following a semi-lockdown in the Seoul area.
Two aerial tankers will depart for the Middle East later on Sunday, the ministry said, confirming that 61 additional troops on the ship had tested positive for the virus following media reports of seven cases.
The administration stated on Thursday that it will deploy a medical team to deal with the epidemic on the ship.
However, fears grew that the epidemic might be far worse and would necessitate more extreme measures. According to Yonhap News Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff has received just 101 results from PCR testing of the more over 300 military men on board, with the remainder expected to be revealed in the following hours.
South Korea announced 1,454 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, increasing the overall number of cases to 177,951 and the total number of deaths to 2,057. The COVID-19 vaccination has been administered to slightly more than 30% of South Korea’s 52 million inhabitants.