South Korea and the United States plan to kick off their annual summertime combined exercise in a scaled-back manner next week, days behind schedule amid a recent surge in new coronavirus cases, sources said Saturday.
The computer-simulated command post exercise was initially set to begin Sunday and to run until Aug. 28, but the date of the commencement will be pushed back two days, the sources said, adding that it is to end on the planned date.
The adjustment came as a South Korean Army officer who was supposed to take part in the exercise tested positive for the coronavirus Friday after meeting with a civilian patient last week.
Some 160 military members were found to have had close contact with the official and are undergoing virus tests, according to defense ministry officials.
South Korea reported 166 new COVID-19 patients Saturday, which is a five-month high, mostly in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province.
"We are closely monitoring the virus situation and other circumstances and maintain close consultation to conduct the exercise while prioritizing the safety of service members," a military officer said. (Yonhap)