Seoul - South Korea will airlift alltroops from a ship on anti-piracy patrol in the Middle East, the Ministry of Defense said on Sunday, while a replacement teamwill steer the vessel back home after dozens of soldiers onboard tested positive for the coronavirus. South Korea, once cited as a success story for keeping COVID under control, is battling record infections as the more transmissible Delta variant spreads throughout the country after prompting a semi-lockdown in the Seoul area.
Two aerial tankers will depart for the Middle East later on Sunday, the ministry said, confirming that 61 additional troopson the ship had tested positive for the virus following mediareports of seven cases. The government had said on Thursday it would send a medical team to address the outbreak on the vessel. But worries mounted that the outbreak could be much worse and require more drastic action. Yonhap News Agency said the Joint Chiefs of Staff had received only 101 results from PCRtests of the more than 300 service members on board, while therest may be disclosed in coming hours. South Korea reported 1,454 new coronavirus cases forSaturday, bringing the cumulative cases at home to 177,951 andtotal deaths to 2,057. Little more than 30% of South Korea's 52million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine