Arrivals at Incheon International Airport (Yonhap)
Foreigners arriving at South Korean airports are required to present negative coronavirus test results to be allowed into the country, starting Friday, as the country seeks to contain the influx of new variants of the coronavirus reported in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Foreign nationals must now show the results of a polymerase chain reaction coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of their departure for Korea, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
Foreigners arriving at Korean ports via passenger ships will also be required to submit negative COVID-19 test results, starting Jan. 15.
Both the new South African and UK variants appear to be more contagious, health authorities and experts say. The new variants have been reported in some 30 countries around the globe.
Korea has reported 11 cases of the UK variant and one case of the South African variant.
The country has already tightened entry restrictions for those arriving from the UK and South Africa, halting visa issuance and making it mandatory for them to get tested for the virus twice before being released from the 14-day self-quarantine.
The government has halted all flights into Korea from Britain.
Korea is facing its biggest wave of coronavirus infections this winter, leading the government to impose the second-most-restrictive antivirus measures in its system in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Korea added 870 more COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with cases linked to churches, nursing homes, private gatherings and a detention center. The average number of new cases per day stood at 863.7 over the past week. The country’s total number of cases to date rose to 66,688.
By Ock hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org