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[Newsmaker] Six countries deny entry to Koreans over COVID-19

Incheon International Airport (Yonhap)
Incheon International Airport (Yonhap)


Following the rapid spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea, a growing number of countries are denying entry to Koreans and others who have traveled here.

Jordan on Sunday announced an entry ban for Koreans and foreigners who have traveled via Korea within the past two weeks, becoming the sixth country to do so. The Middle Eastern country also barred people from China and Iran.

As of Monday, six countries or territories have slapped entry restrictions on Koreans. They are Jordan, Israel, Bahrain, Kiribati, Samoa and the unincorporated US territory of American Samoa.

Jordan followed the example of neighboring Israel, which declared an entry ban Saturday after learning that a number of Koreans had been diagnosed with COVID-19 upon returning from religious pilgrimages to Israel. As of Monday, 28 members of the group of 39 had tested positive.

Mauritius, a small island off the coast of Africa, has not officially banned South Koreans, but on Sunday it denied the entry of 34 Korean tourists after one of them showed symptom of a cold, and transported them to an isolated location to be quarantined.

The country was expected to make an official decision over an entry restriction for Korea after a Cabinet meeting Monday.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said it lodged complaint over Mauritius’ action to bar entry of Koreans without consultations or notice, and said it will provide necessary consular assistance for a prompt resolution.

Other countries have stopped short of declaring outright entry bans, but are imposing rigorous restrictions on anyone entering from Korea, such as mandatory medical examinations and self-quarantine orders. They are the UK, Brunei, Macao, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Qatar, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Countries have also advised their citizens to refrain from traveling to Korea. 

The US issued a travel advisory for Korea on Saturday, raising the level of danger from the lowest to the second-lowest level on its four-notch scale, urging Americans to “exercise increased caution” when traveling here.

Singapore also advised its citizens to avoid nonessential travel to Korea, especially to the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province, where more than 70 percent of COVID-19 cases are concentrated.

Korea has seen the number infections increase more than 20-fold in the span of less than a week. As of early Monday evening, the virus tally stood at 833 cases with seven deaths. 

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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