With the number of coronavirus infections growing in China and the rest of the world, the government on Feb. 2 announced stronger precautionary measures to prevent the virus from further spreading across the country.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun made this announcement the same day while chairing a meeting of national health and quarantine officials at Government Complex-Seoul.
“We will maintain the alert for ‘cautionary’ infectious disease crisis but will respond with measures corresponding to critical times,” he said.
“First, we will bar foreigners who have visited China’s Hubei Province in the past two weeks from entering the country,” the prime minister added, saying this entry ban will take effect at midnight on Feb. 4.
Korean nationals who visited Hubei over the past two weeks will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine upon reentry to Korea.
Moreover, the visa-free program for foreign travelers visiting Jeju Island was temporarily suspended.
The government also strengthened measures to help detect the coronavirus in foreign residents in Korea and offered those infected proper treatment.
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The Ministry of Justice on Jan. 31 said Hi Korea, an online portal offering immigration consultation for expats in Korea, will provide daily service around the clock in 20 languages including English, Chinese and Vietnamese.
If someone suspected of contracting the coronavirus signs up for consultation through the portal, he or she will receive information on preventative measures and third-party interpretation. On weekends and public holidays and weekdays from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., the service will be offered only in Korean, English and Chinese.
The ministry also encouraged foreign nationals staying illegally in the country to get checked for the coronavirus without fear of deportation or other penalties.
“In accordance with immigration laws, the immigration office will not collect personal information on those staying illegally or crack down on medical facilities that have conducted checkups on (such people) suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. Should you see any symptoms, please visit the nearest medical facility for a checkup,” said the ministry.
On February 3, the U.S. Department of State upgraded its Travel Advisory on China from “Level:3 Reconsider travel” to “Level:4 Do not travel,” which is the highest level. Meanwhile, Travel Advisory to South Korea is still classified as normal (Level:1 Exercise normal precautions). So, if you follow the precautionary guidelines well, there will be no major danger during your stay in Korea.
Source: Korean Government, U.S. Department of State