Embassies alert expats on virus outbreak here

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Embassies alert expats on virus outbreak here

Embassies in Korea are taking measures to protect their nationals against the coronavirus outbreak by providing updates in their languages on their websites and on social media platforms regarding the changing situations of the virus containment efforts in Korea.

“Dear Bangladeshi brothers and sisters residing in South Korea, hope you all are keeping well,” said Ambassador of Bangladesh to Korea Abida Islam, speaking in Bengali in a video message posted on the Bangladesh Embassy’s Facebook account on Monday. “There is no information that any Bangladeshi citizen has been affected by this virus. However, on behalf of the Embassy, I again urge you all to be more vigilant.”

The message has been shared by over 1,400 users as of Thursday, most likely Bangladesh residents in Korea. There are 16,641 citizens of Bangladesh residing in Korea as of August last year, according to Korean Statistical Information Service.

Other embassies, like the U.S. Embassy in Korea, have created a designated page to provide updated information regarding the Korean Foreign Ministry’s policies on entry into and exit from Korea.

Some are sharing the latest instructions regarding their nationals returning home from Korea.

“Residents [Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents] with recent travel history to Daegu and Cheongdo [County, North Gyeongsang,] within the last 14 days […] will have to remain in their place of residence at all times for a 14-day period after returning to Singapore,” reads the press release from the Ministry of Health of Singapore posted on the Facebook account of the Singapore Embassy in Seoul on Tuesday.

From Thursday, all foreign nationals who in the last two weeks have traveled to Daegu and Cheongdo, the hotbed of the virus outbreak in Korea, were banned from entry into Singapore, or transit through it, the ministry added.

Some foreign nationals are apparently benefitting from the updates by the embassies.

“Most of the news on Covid-19 [the official name of the coronavirus] is in Korean or English which makes it difficult for people from my country to understand due to the language barrier,” said Tabassum Nasrin Haque, a Bangladesh national in Korea. “As a Bangladeshi living in Korea, I felt that this was a much-needed step taken by our ambassador and Embassy of Bangladesh in Seoul.”

Embassies are also working on updating their databases of their nationals residing in Korea, in light of the outbreak.

Some embassies have also taken their undocumented nationals into consideration as well.

“Likewise, it is emphasized that all immigrants in South Korea, in a regular or irregular situation, can, without distinction, receive medical treatment from public health centers to treat Covid-19,” the Embassy of Brazil wrote on its Facebook account on Feb. 21. “According to a new clause in the South Korean immigration law, undocumented residents will not be at risk of being deported from the country,” it said. “Public health services will not transmit to the migratory authorities any information regarding the migratory situation of foreign patients.”

Anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus is advised by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call the treatment hotline at 1345, which is available 24 hours a day with services offered in 20 languages including English, Chinese and Vietnamese.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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