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Military to strengthen quarantine and medical system in response to Omicron

Military to establish plan to respond to emergencies in each unit
Will expand PCR test capability and number of contact tracers
To announce new measures to contain infection in the key facilities for each armed service
Military will secure available quarantine facilities and shorten the quarantine period

Military to establish plan to respond to emergenci

Our military will establish a ‘plan to respond to emergencies in each unit’ to ensure the maintenance of current operations amid the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

On January 24, the Ministry of National Defense announced a plan for the quarantine and medical system, including a plan to respond to emergencies, to address the rapid increase of confirmed and quarantined cases in the military due to the Omicron variant.

The plan to respond to emergencies will include △ striving to contain infection in the key facilities of each armed service, △ designating an alternative facility or a reserve forces in advance and maintaining a prompt transition posture in the event of infection, with the aim of making full preparations for the maintenance of a military readiness posture in the event of an emergency. The plan will be inspected by the Army Chief of Staff, the Navy Chief of Staff, and the Air Force Chief of Staff, and chiefs of the units and chiefs of the agencies under the direct control of the ministry.

The military also plans to maintain its current polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test system by expanding the military’s PCR testing capability to the full, both through reinforcing military manpower and through expanding the amount of testing entrusted to private institutes. The military also plans to increase the number of rapid antigen tests when the situation exceeds the testing capability. People who meet the priority need category, including enlisted soldiers, soldiers returning from vacation, and soldiers with suspected COVID-19 symptoms based on a doctor’s diagnosis, will receive PCR tests. 

The ministry also plans to rent additional private facilities, as well as to secure available quarantine facilities for each unit, to respond to the rapid increase in quarantined cases. In connection with the government’s new quarantine guidelines, the ministry also decided to reduce the burden of management by shortening the quarantine period of soldiers who have been in contact with a COVID-19 case and soldiers returning from vacation from ten days to seven days.

The ministry also plans to conduct special training for contact tracers, and expand their number. The Army Forces Military Manpower School announced the plan to train 350 contact tracers in the first half of this year. 

Regarding the treatment of confirmed cases, the ministry has decided to maintain the existing system in which soldiers and trainees in the units who cannot be treated at home should enter residential treatment centers, while officers and full-time reserve personnel who commute from their homes should be treated at home according to the control of the health authorities. To ensure the smooth allocation of hospital beds given the rapid increase of confirmed cases, the ministry will work to strengthen monitoring on a daily basis in cooperation with the health authorities.

“If contact tracing, tests, and the quarantined and confirmed cases exceed the military’s quarantine capability or interfere with the accomplishment of the military’s essential mission, the military will work to strengthen a plan for distancing in the military, in connection with the government’s quarantine guidelines,” a ministry spokesperson commented.

Regarding the implementation of reserve forces training in 2022, “the ministry makes it a rule to prepare for the implementation of reserve forces training within the allowable conditions for a training camp, observing the quarantine guidelines with an awareness that the maintenance of reserve forces is of great importance,” ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan explained at the Monday briefing, adding that “the ministry plans to announce an implementation plan in March after comprehensive consideration of the quarantine response situation.”

By Chul-Hwan, Kim < >

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