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Defense Secretary Esper says coronavirus has had “very low impact” on U.S. military

Kyodo News reported on Tuesday that Defense Secretary Esper said at an online think tank event on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic has only had a “very low impact” on the U.S. military and that its “fight-tonight” status remains intact on the Korean Peninsula. He warned, however, that there could be a “greater impact” over time, such as in terms of training, if the virus shows no signs of ebbing. Secretary Esper said that of the country’s 2 million-strong military, fewer than 5,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus and fewer than 100 have been hospitalized. Out of more than 90 military vessels at sea, only two have been affected – the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and the destroyer Kidd. Secretary Esper also warned that China’s activity is ticking up in the South China Sea, citing the reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese Coast Guard ship in April. “The Chinese have been a little bit more provocative in that part of the world,” the Secretary said, adding that the United States is closely watching China’s activities in the disputed waters.

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