South Korea’s defense ministry on Wednesday announced that there were 23 more Cheonghae naval unit members who were confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19.
Out of the 301 crew members, 270 were now positive for the virus.
The ministry said that there had been an 89.7 percent positivity rate among the members who have undergone testing upon their return to the country as 270 tests turned out positive and 31 were negative.
Last week, six COVID-19 cases were reported which prompted the testing of the crews aboard the Munmu the Great, which was on an anti-piracy mission in waters off Africa. As of Tuesday, 247 cases were confirmed.
The ministry arranged the members’ return from Africa due to the worst-ever mass infection of the crews. They came home weeks earlier than the original schedule.
The members were brought to military centers or other treatment facilities to be taken care of.
“Three of them showed moderate symptoms. We will continue to closely monitor the conditions of the crewmembers and take necessary steps,” according to a ministry official.
The unit’s destroyer was fetched by a team of crews on Tuesday and departed an African port earlier in the day.
Recently, another batch of the Cheonghae unit has come to the Gulf of Aden, officials said. They will be tasked to start peacekeeping missions.
While contact tracing is being done, it appears that the infection started between June 28 to July 1 when the destroyer stopped by the African port to replenish supplies, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“When loading supplies, one civilian pilot got on the vessel. But the individual, as well as our service members, wore protective gear,” according to Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min who spoke with a radio program. “After crewmembers are in a stable condition, we will carry out inquiries into the situation.”