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(2nd LD) Eight foreigners, 1 Korean test positive for COVID-19 after party at USFK member's home

19:42 February 22, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES paras 2, 4 with latest figures; ADDS more details in paras 3, 9)

SEOUL/PYEONGTAEK, South Korea, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- Eight foreigners and one South Korean have tested positive for the new coronavirus after attending a party at a U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) service member's home, officials said Monday.

The party was held Feb. 13 near Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, and attended by 20 foreigners and one South Korean, according to officials at the local city government. The service member works on the base.

Of the nine patients, eight are party attendees and one is a family member, the officials said, adding that the first case was confirmed Wednesday and the infection route has yet to be determined.

Police have been asked to locate two attendees whose whereabouts are currently unknown. The other 11 tested negative, according to the officials.

This composite image, provided by Yonhap News TV, depicts a party near Osan Air Base. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The group met on Instagram and gathered from across the country, including North Gyeongsang, South Chungcheong and Gyeonggi provinces.

The city government plans to conduct an epidemiological survey and fine the attendees for breaching a nationwide ban on private gatherings of five or more people, which has been in place since early January to curb the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, those who violate the ban could face a fine of up to 100,000 won (US$91).

USFK confirmed that an airman stationed at the Osan base recently tested positive for the virus but said it would be "speculative to assess where the individual contracted the virus."

It was not immediately known how many USFK members were involved in the case.

"Any type of event, either on or off-installation, that are inconsistent with USFK core tenets and COVID-19 health protection mitigation measures do not reflect our commitment to mitigating the spread of the virus and will not be condoned," the U.S. military said in a statement.

"We remain committed to being good neighbors with the Republic of Korea, and reinforcing USFK's core tenet standards that continue to protect both ROK and USFK communities."



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