South Korean authorities extended coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions from Monday, September 28, to October 11 in order to cover the period of the Chuseok holiday. Level two restrictions have been extended nationwide and authorities urged the public to avoid traveling during the holiday period nationwide. Under Level 2 restrictions, people are requested to stay home as much as possible, except to attend work or purchase essential items. Indoor events are limited to a maximum of 50 people and outdoor events to 100. Beaches, museums, and libraries are closed. Face coverings must be worn in most public places and people are required to maintain and interpersonal distance of two meters (6ft). Tighter measures currently in place in Seoul metropolitan area, including Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, have also been extended until October 11. No new exceptional measures have been announced during the holiday period as of Friday, September 25.
All those arriving in South Korea are required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period and take a COVID-19 test within three days of arrival. A 'fast-track' has been set up for essential business trips and official travel from Singapore, China, the UAE, and Indonesia, whereby travelers need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72-96 hours prior to arrival depending on the country of origin. They will then be required to take another test on arrival and once this is confirmed negative, they are free to enter South Korea.
As of Friday, September 25, there have been 23,455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea with 395 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in 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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