Mandatory self-quarantine for some U.S. arrivals begins Friday

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Mandatory self-quarantine for some U.S. arrivals begins Friday

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Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official of Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare [YONHAP]

Some passengers arriving from the United States will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days at their homes, the government announced Wednesday morning.

Returning Koreans and long-term visitors are covered by the new rule, which will be implemented from Friday.

Short-term visitors arriving for business won’t be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, but they will be tested for the new coronavirus at the airport and be released if the result is negative. During their stay, they will be contacted daily by Korean health authorities and asked to report their health condition.

The latest measure was announced as more people have been bringing the coronavirus into Korea, especially from Europe and the United States, as local infections fall.

Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said Wednesday in a press briefing that Koreans and long-term visitors will be asked at the airport about their health. If they report coronavirus symptoms, they will be tested. Like short-term visitors, a negative test will be required before being released.

They will then be told to go straight home and self-isolate for two weeks. If they show symptoms of the virus during that time, they must call the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (KCDC) hotline at 1339 to be tested.

Those who violate the government’s self-quarantine rules can be punished by up to a year in prison or face a fine of up to 10 million won ($8,143), Yoon said.

Anyone testing positive for the coronavirus will be transferred to a government-run isolation facility or to a hospital for treatment.

Yoon added that the Korean government will continue monitoring the situation in the United States to determine whether all travelers should be mandatorily tested, as is done for those arriving from Europe.

Among the 100 new cases of the coronavirus reported Tuesday, 51 were brought from a foreign country, health officials said. Korea’s infection total is now 9,137. Of those, 126 people have died and 3,730 have recovered.

The United States has reported 54,823 cases of the coronavirus - the third-highest in the world after China and Italy - and 778 deaths.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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