The U.S. military says one of its soldiers based in South Korea tested positive for a new virus, the first U.S. service member infected.
A U.S. military statement said Wednesday that the 23-year-old man is in self quarantine at his off-base residence.
It says the soldier was originally based in Camp Caroll in a town near the southeastern city of Daegu, where most of South Korea’s virus cases are clustered.
South Korea said Wednesday it had almost 1,150 cases of the new coronavirus, the biggest outbreak outside mainland China.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.
South Korea has reported 169 more cases of a new virus, mostly in the southeast city of Daegu and nearby areas, bringing its total number of infections to 1,146.
China on Wednesday reported another 406 cases of the new virus, along with 52 additional deaths, all of them in hard-hit Hubei province and all but 10 in the epicenter of the city of Wuhan.
China has recorded a total of 2,715 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and 78,064 cases in all.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 134 of the new cases were confirmed in Daegu, where the government has been mobilizing public health tools to contain the virus. Another 19 cases came from the neighboring North Gyeongsang Province towns.
The country has also reported 11 fatalities from the virus, mostly at a hospital in the county of Cheongdo, near Daegu. Many of the cases have been tied to a Daegu church and authorities were tested its local members.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier called for Americans to be prepared for the illness to spread there, adding new urgency to response efforts that had long focused on China and its Asian neighbors.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen — and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a call with reporters Tuesday. She cautioned that there could soon be disruptions of routines including school cancellations, increased reliance on teleconferences and the like.
Chinese officials have reported a slowing in the number of new cases in recent days but it still has most of the world’s 80,000 cases and 2,700 deaths.
New outbreaks were being reported, however, in places as far-flung as Italy and Iran, France and Algeria, and Spain’s Canary Islands. The tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain counted 17 cases, including a school bus driver who had transported students as recently as Sunday.
The head of Iran’s virus task force tested positive for the virus just a day after urging the public not to overreact about its spread. Iraj Harirchi posted a video online later, promising authorities would bring the virus under control within weeks.