S.Korea to require pre-entry Covid testing for travelers from HK and Macao

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Seoul, Jan 3 (IANS) South Korea will require a negative Covid-19 PCR test for arrivals from Hong Kong and Macao, in addition to the planned requirement for travelers from China, due to a surge in infections in the region, health authorities said on Tuesday.

Starting Saturday, those from Hong Kong and Macao must show a negative PCR test for the coronavirus before boarding flights to South Korea, as the number of cases and deaths there have grown, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The planned measure came after the government tightened entry rules for those from China to minimise the impact of a recent growth in the virus in China, as Beijing eased strict anti-virus restrictions, Yonhap News Agency reported.

On Monday, South Korea began requiring a PCR test for arrivals from China within the first day of their entry.

They must remain in separate facilities here until their test results are confirmed, while South Korean nationals and foreigners with residency status returning here from visiting China have to quarantine at their residence after a PCR test.

Starting Thursday, those from China must show a negative PCR test for the coronavirus. They will be required to receive a PCR test within 48 hours before their arrival or an antigen test within 24 hours before their arrival.

South Korea has been stepping up antivirus efforts amid concerns over the spread of a new omicron subvariant and a wintertime surge.

On Tuesday, the country confirmed 81,056 new coronavirus infections, including 63 from overseas, bringing the total to 29,220,591, the KDCA said.

It is far higher than the previous day’s 22,735, as the infections had been on a decline over the past six days. The figure a week earlier was 87,512.

The country added 29 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 32,301. The death rate stood at 0.11 per cent.

The number of critically ill patients came to 620, down from the previous day’s 637. The figure surpassed 600 on Sunday for the first time in about eight months.

South Korea is watching the developments regarding the new omicron subvariant of XBB 1.5, which has been spreading rapidly around the world recently.

Experts said the subvariant could be more infectious and resistant to immune response.

The KDCA has said the country first found a XBB 1.5 case on December 8, 2022, and a total of 13 cases have been detected so far, including seven from overseas.



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