- Six positive tests on an anti-piracy military vessel
- Moon orders the dispatch of planes with the help of the unit
- Wednesday’s 1,600 new cases are close to previous high of 1,615
SEOUL, July 15 (Reuters) – South Korea sends a medical team to the Middle East to fight a coronavirus outbreak on one of its ships on anti-piracy patrol while at home, news Daily infections hover around record highs with 1,600 reported on Thursday.
South Korea has been a coronavirus success story for months as it brought outbreaks under control with testing, tracing and social distancing, but the Delta variant has fueled a new wave of persistent infections in recent weeks.
The outbreak on the South Korean destroyer with some 300 troops on board operating in the Gulf of Aden is another headache for President Moon Jae-in’s administration.
Moon has ordered medical experts with emergency supplies to travel to the area to contain the outbreak and get patients out if they have to, presidential spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said.
The Yonhap News Agency, citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said six servicemen tested positive for the coronavirus, while some 80 developed symptoms. None on board have been vaccinated, Yonhap said.
The Defense Ministry declined to make any immediate comment, but said it was preparing a statement on the matter.
South Korea has recorded 173,511 coronavirus cases and 2,050 deaths since the start of the pandemic, data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) showed.
Only 30.8% of its 52 million people received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 12% were fully vaccinated.
Clusters of infections were largely concentrated in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas, but cases have spread to more rural areas, adding to concerns about the Delta variant.
In response, the government tightened social distancing rules across much of the country on Wednesday, when authorities reported a daily record of 1,615 cases. Read more
The KDCA has reported at least 1,000 new cases daily since July 7 and authorities expect the trend to continue until mid-August. Read more
But there has been no significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths, with a death rate of 1.18% and the number of severe cases at 167 on Wednesday, well below levels seen in the previous peak in December. .
Reportage by Sangmi Cha; Montage par Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel
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