South Korean authorities announced that several coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related restrictions have been tightened in Seoul and the surrounding areas from Sunday, November 22, following a rise in cases in the country. Bars and nightclubs will be forced to close while a limit on religious gatherings and restaurants will be in place.
The tightening of restrictions comes as the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported over 300 new daily COVID-19 cases in the country for the fifth consecutive day.
As of November 24, coffee shops will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services, while restaurants must close to in-person dining at 21:00 (local time). Additional restrictions on gyms will also be implemented while attendance caps on religious gatherings and sporting events will be in place.
The greater Seoul metropolitan area has moved from COVID alert level 1 to 1.5 as of November 19. Under the new restrictions, public gatherings of more than 100 people have been prohibited.
As of November 22, South Korean authorities have recorded 30,733 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with 505 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.