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In light of the continuing spread of the coronavirus, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) stated on Sunday that, following the US Health and Human Services’ announcement of a US public health emergency, it has instituted a 14-day self-quarantine policy for US service members returning from China on or after January 19.
The 14-day quarantine, which equals the incubation period for the coronavirus, is to begin from the date an individual returns to South Korea, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms or not.
USFK stressed that the quarantine measures are precautionary, as it does not have any personnel that have returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
“USFK continues to stress the overall risk to USFK personnel remains low, but that the quarantine measures implemented are out of an abundance of caution to mitigate risk to the USFK population," the command said in a statement.
The self-quarantine policy is mandatory for US troops who reside on or off USFK installations. USFK has encouraged military family members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and others to take similar steps in the interest of public health safety.
More cases in South Korea
On Sunday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported three more confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 15.
The KCDC said it is observing and tracking the movements of new patients to determine where they have been and with whom they have come into contact.
A global emergency
On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency.
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing.
Over 14,000 people have been infected with the virus and over 300 have died in the outbreak, the majority from China.
On Sunday, it was reported that a 44-year old man from Wuhan died of the coronavirus in the Philippines. This is the first confirmed fatality outside China.