10-day quarantine for overseas arrivals extended for 3 weeks
Korea extended its 10-day mandatory quarantine rule for all overseas arrivals through Jan. 6.
Along with the extension, Korea will keep its borders closed to eleven African countries, including South Africa, for another three weeks.
The government and the Central Disease Control Headquarters announced the decisions late Tuesday after holding a meeting to discuss measures to fight the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Korea had tightened immigration measures and required all international arrivals to quarantine for 10 days regardless of whether they are vaccinated from Dec. 3 through Thursday. But considering the lack of information on the severity of Omicron in addition to its relatively fast transmission and its spread worldwide, authorities extended the measures.
Korean nationals and foreigners on long-term visas will be allowed to isolate at home, while foreigners with permission to stay of 90 days or less will have to quarantine at a temporary residential facility designated by the government. They must take a total of three Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests — before entry, on the first day after entry, and before their release from quarantine.
Quarantine exemptions will still be issued under certain circumstance, such as for people attending a funeral within seven days and for those needed to perform public duties at an executive-level. Exemptions for family visits or for business purposes will no longer be granted, health officials added.
People arriving from jurisdictions that have signed a travel-bubble agreement, such as Singapore and the Northern Mariana Islands, are exempt from quarantine, while the government plans to supplement antivirus measures, such as strengthening requirements for negative PCR test results.
Foreigners entering for short-term stays and coming from one of 11 African countries will not be allowed to enter Korea through Jan. 6. The countries include South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Mozambique and Malawi.
Korean nationals and foreigners with permission to stay of greater than 90 days and arriving from the listed nations may still enter the country, but must isolate for ten days at a temporary residential facility and receive four PCR tests — before entry, on the first day after entry, on the fifth day after entry and before their release from quarantine.
Direct flights to and from Ethiopia — Korea's only direct air connection with Africa — will be suspended through Jan. 6, reflecting heightened concerns over the new variant.
The government plans to arrange charter flights for Korean nationals wishing to return from Ethiopia.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]