The top US general in South Korea says that he does not believe North Korea’s claim it has no cases of novel coronavirus.
“That is an impossible claim based on all of the intel we have seen,” Gen. Robert Abrams, Commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), said in a joint interview with CNN and Voice of America.
“How many? I couldn’t tell you but I do know by their actions that for about 30 days in February, early March, that their military was locked down and they took draconian methods on their border crossings and in their formations.”
North Korea has not reported any coronavirus infections, but it borders two of the most heavily affected countries in the region -- China and South Korea.
While the 16th USFK-related coronavirus infection was reported today, Abrams said the military force has managed to keep that number low.
“We've seen the worst but now is not the time to get complacent. Our worst is frankly not that bad," Abrams said.
He added that the 16 USFK-related cases were reported out of 58,000 people in total, including 28,500 active military personnel, dependents and support staff for bases around the country.
As USFK was among the first US military forces to have to deal with the virus worldwide, Abrams said he has advice for those now grappling with the spread around the world.
“Go hard, go early, it will seem like over-reaction, it will seem a bit over-the-top, 'My gosh why are we having to do that draconian measure?' A week later your community will understand (and) your unit will understand why you had to do that," he said.