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15 Mar 2020 | 02:21 AM UTC

South Korea: Government designates four "special disaster zones" in North Gyeongsang province March 15 /update 13

President Moon Jae-in designates four "special disaster zones" in North Gyeongsang province on March 15 due to COVID-19; 8162 confirmed cases nationwide and 75 fatalities

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Event

On Sunday, March 15, President Moon Jae-in announced the designation of four "special disaster zones" in North Gyeongsand province: Daegu and Gyeongsan cities, and Cheongdo and Bonghwa counties, in order to allocate specific state resources to these areas most impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). Daegu accounts for approximately 73 percent of the countries confirmed COVID-19 cases with 6031 individual testing positive for the virus as of Sunday. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) confirmed 8162 cases of coronavirus nationwide as of 00:00 (local time) on March 15, including 75 associated fatalities. While the number of new infections per day has decreased in the previous days, further spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks across South Korea.

Local media outlets reported on Thursday that 136 countries and territories are restricting entry or enforcing quarantine measures for travelers from South Korea. More information regarding entry restrictions around the world for individuals coming South Korea can be found on the Korean Air website here. The national airline carrier announced further international flight cancelations and reductions on March 9, including several routes to and from the US and Europe. Other domestic airlines, such as Asiana Airlines, also announced extensive flight cancelations and reductions on international routes from March 5. Further travel restrictions for individuals traveling from or via South Korea and/or for South Korean nationals are anticipated in the near term, as well as additional domestic and international flight disruptions.

Context

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). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

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.