South Korea restricts arrivals from eight African countries amid spread of 'Omicron' variant
Updated: 2021-11-28 13:57:40 KST
"Omicron," the latest COVID-19 variant classified as a highly transmissible mutation of concern, is pushing countries to tighten their virus prevention measures.
This includes South Korea, which has implemented travel bans.
Shin Ye-eun reports.
After the WHO on Friday identified a fifth coronavirus variant, "Omicron," governments worldwide have been taking preventive measures.
That includes South Korea.
The country's Central Disease Control Headquarters on Saturday has decided to restrict visa issuance and foreign arrivals from 8 African nations - South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
Korean nationals who arrive from these countries will have to stay in quarantine for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
This measure took effect on Sunday.
Health authorities in Korea have also decided to invent a new PCR test method to detect the Omicron variant.
PCR tests that have been used until now have only been able to detect the dominant COVID-19 strain and the four other variants.
Other parts of the world, like the United States and Israel, have also imposed travel bans.
While the U.S. has no Omicron cases to date, it has decided to ban entry to most travelers from Mondayexcept its citizens and lawful permanent residents.
The state of New York has taken further steps and declared a state of emergency so that it can prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 resulting from this variant.
Under the state of emergency set to kick off from December 3rd hospitals will only take in critically ill patients when they are running low on hospital beds.
Israel said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country and introduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.
As of now, only 1 person in the country has been infected, while 7 have shown related symptoms.
Scientists have warned that Omicron could be more infectious and less susceptible to vaccines.
A South African doctor who was the first to alert authorities about the Omicron variant said while symptoms of Omicron are "unusual but mild" among healthy patients it can possibly cause complications in the elderly and unvaccinated.
Shin Ye-eun, Arirang News.