South Korea implements new quarantine measures on inbound travelers

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Cherlin Kim, Reporter

On Dec. 1, South Korea hit a new record in COVID-19 cases of 5,266 people, with five people confirmed to have contracted the omicron variant. 90% of all intensive care unit beds are currently occupied in Seoul, with 915 patients still waiting to be admitted. 

With rising cases and the new coronavirus variant officially introduced to the country, South Korea quickly imposed a 10-day quarantine amongst inbound travelers entering the country, which began on Dec. 3 and is said to last for at least two weeks. This is a mandation set for all passengers from overseas, no matter their nationality or current vaccination status. 

“My suspicion is that they will be extending the 10-day quarantine for more than just two weeks,” Jessica Terbrueggen, English teacher, said. “During the winter months, especially when everyone is traveling, cases will definitely increase. I’m guessing that the Korean government and others around the globe are just going to come back with harsher restrictions for people.”

On Dec. 3, the South Korean government mandated travelers to submit a PCR negative test 72 hours before their departure date, with only children younger than the age of six being exempt from doing so. While quarantining can be done at home for Koreans and residents, the government is currently managing temporary facilities for short-term visitors who must pay for these expenses.

“The new quarantining measures definitely did affect my travel plans; I am still visiting the US for the holidays, but I will have to adjust my arrival date if the quarantine is still put into measure,” Niko Lambert, AP Biology teacher, said. 

In order to combat COVID rates from spiking, South Korea is completely restricting arrivals from eleven African countries (South Africa, Botswana, Kimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, and Zambia). 

“This new mandation is not affecting my plans, because I wasn’t planning to go overseas this winter, but I know friends who are canceling trips they planned,” Anna Lee (10) said. “I think that it definitely is a bummer that quarantining is affecting people’s travel plans for the winter, but I think they are necessary measures that must be taken in order to prevent the omicron variant from spreading at this early stage.”