Seoul will impose strict airport screening measures on all international arrivals to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and offer special disaster relief to hard-hit regions.
“There is no use in applying tough entry procedures to select countries, given the spread of the pandemic,” said Health Minister Park Neung-hoo in a briefing Sunday.
“The universal special screening will be imposed as soon as possible,” he added.
The strengthened quarantine measures would apply to both Korean and foreign nationals arriving in the country. They include a fever check and reporting of health conditions. Those showing potential symptoms of COVID-19 like a sore throat and cough would be placed under supervision.
Since earlier this month, Korea has imposed special entry measures on mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Italy and Iran. On Sunday, it added five more European countries to the list, including France, Germany, Spain, Britain and the Netherlands.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo. [Photo by Yonhap]
President Moon Jae-in on Sunday declared the southeastern city of Daegu and three nearby regions in North Gyeongsang Province as special disaster zones. Daegu is the epicenter of Korea’s coronavirus outbreak, responsible for 77 percent of the country’s total cases.
This is the first time that Korea has designated an area a special disaster zone for reasons other than natural disasters. The move would allow the government to spend up to 50 percent on relief efforts in the region. It would also be able to provide emergency fund to patients and assist lower-income households by cutting utility bills and health insurance costs.
As the virus rages across Europe and the United States, the number of new infections has started to dwindle in South Korea. The country reported 74 new cases last Saturday, the first time the number has slipped below 100 in 23 days, bringing the total tally to 8,162.
By Park Yong-beom, Chung Seul-gi and Kim Hyo-jin
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