South Korea removes post-travel quarantines for unvaccinated
SEOUL — From Wednesday all arriving air travelers to South Korea do not need to quarantine regardless of their vaccination status. Also being lifted is the limit on the number of international flights using airports here.
Until the previous day, people who had not been completely vaccinated — meaning, boosted or no longer than 180 days had elapsed since the receipt of a second — had to quarantine for seven full days upon arrival, on top of pre-departure tests. The requirement that travelers, regardless of vaccination status, submit test results both before departure and after arrival still remains in place.
The removal of quarantine for travelers is part of the government COVID-19 headquarters’ post-omicron response plan announced in April. The government is due to announce next week whether to continue to require patients with active infections to isolate for seven days.
The unraveling of COVID-19-related restrictions comes as global cases of monkeypox are rising. Monkeypox outbreaks have been reported in at least 27 countries where the disease is not endemic, according to the latest announcement from the World Health Organization.
On the same day, Korea designated monkeypox as an infectious disease with the second-highest threat level in its legal framework. This means that people found with monkeypox will have the legal responsibility to isolate and report the disease to public health authorities.
In a news briefing Wednesday morning, the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s spokesperson Son Young-rae said based on information available so far, monkeypox “doesn’t appear to warrant the same level of emergency response” the country has adopted against COVID-19.
The ministry said efforts were underway to bring in the latest generation of vaccines against smallpox that are believed to also offer protection against monkeypox. The 35 million doses of smallpox vaccines in Korea are all from a local brand that were approved for use here in 2008.
Son said the ministry and authorities at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency have not agreed on instituting post-travel quarantines to prevent transmission of monkeypox.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.