S.Korean military to bolster coronavirus testing capacity

South Korea’s military plans to beef up its Covid-19 testing capacity amid the emergence of the omicron variant as the dominant strain in the country, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.

Health authorities said Omicron accounted for 50 per cent of newly added variant infections last week, sparking concerns over the spread of the more infectious strain in the country, reports Yonhap News Agency.

In response, the military said it plans to enhance its polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing capacity by increasing the number of related workers while expanding ties with private testing facilities.

The military will also shorten the quarantine period for service members returning from their vacations by three days to a week to minimise its burden of handling Covid-19 patients.

The military added it plans to prioritise PCR tests for high-risk members should the omicron infections overwhelm its testing capacity.

“The Defence Ministry will continue efforts to maintain a robust and unwavering military readiness posture by thoroughly implementing antivirus measures, while ensuring the basic rights of the troops,” the Ministry said in a statement.

While no new restrictions on vacations or off-base trips are planned for now, the military added it may roll out intensive social distancing measures should the virus affect its mission capabilities.

The military, meanwhile, reported 24 additional Covid-19 cases on Monday, including 22 breakthrough infections, raising the total caseload among its personnel to 3,942.

Of the new cases, 15 are from the Army, four from the Marine Corps, four from units under the direct control of the Defence Ministry, and one from the Navy.

Currently, 384 military personnel are under treatment. Of the total military caseload, 2,098 are breakthrough cases.

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