On Saturday, July 25, South Korean authorities announced the highest daily increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases since March, with 113 new cases reported over the preceding 24-hours. Nearly three-quarters of the cases were not locally transmitted, but brought from abroad. Officials warned that cases may rise as further people enter the country. Two South Korean military flights arrived from Iraq on Friday, July 24, carrying workers evacuated from the country. Of the 293 passengers, at least 71 were infected with COVID-19.
South Korean authorities previously restricted the entry of foreign travelers in late June, following another increase in imported cases. All passengers wishing to enter South Korea must be tested on arrival, and those transiting must undertake a temperature check, with a full test administered should they be symptomatic. Short term travelers must quarantine at government facilities for 14 days, with a daily charge of 100,000KRW ($83).
Face masks must be worn in many public places, although the supply of masks is limited in the country. Travelers are advised to bring their own supply.
As of July 25, authorities have confirmed 14,092 cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 298 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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