FILE PHOTO: Women wearing masks to protect against contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walk along a street in Seoul, South Korea March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
SEOUL (Reuters) – Every person arriving in South Korea from overseas will soon be required to undergo two weeks of quarantine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the country’s prime minister said on Sunday.
South Korea confirmed 105 new coronavirus cases as of Saturday, bringing the country’s total to 9,583, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday.
Of the new cases, 41 were travelers arriving from overseas, including 40 South Korean citizens and one foreigner, the KCDC said.
The new mandatory isolation for all arrivals will go into effect on April 1, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a government meeting.
“In order to effectively block entry for non-important purposes such as tourism, we will expand the compulsory quarantine measure to all foreigners coming in for short stays too,” he said.
The policy will also apply to South Korean citizens. If foreigners do not have a residence in the country, they will be quarantined in government-designated facilities at their own expense, Chung added.
Currently, people arriving from the United States have to spend two weeks in quarantine and those showing symptoms, like fever, are required to be tested for the coronavirus. Tighter rules, including a mandatory test and quarantine took effect on Thursday for visitors from Europe on long-term visas.
South Korea has installed “walk-through” testing stations at Incheon airport, the country’s biggest, to meet the need for checks.
The government said on Friday it would require all inbound flights to check passengers’ temperatures starting from Monday and anyone with a temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) would be denied entry.
Reporting by Josh Smith; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Christian Schmollinger