South Korea to drop pre-travel Covid testing for inbound travelers

Seoul, Aug 31 (EFE).- South Korea will from this weekend eliminate pre-flight Covid-19 testing requirements for inbound travelers, the government announced Wednesday.

“All inbound travelers, whether our nationals or foreigners, arriving aboard a plane or ship will not need to hand in a negative PCR test starting midnight of September three,” said Second Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il.

Currently, South Korea requires a PCR test carried out within 48 hours or an antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to boarding flights into the country.

However, inbound travelers will still be required to undergo a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival. Lee said this is a “minimum measure” to prevent the rapid spread of new variants.

The decision to eliminate the pre-travel test was made as an advisory committee decided that the peak of the current wave of infections has passed.

It also comes after Japan, which is still virtually closed to tourism, announced last week that it will drop pre-travel PCR testing to enter the country from Sep. 7 for those who have three vaccine doses.

After Seoul’s Wednesday decision, almost all the countries of East Asia – with exceptions such as China and North Korea, the borders of which remain sealed – allow entry without a prior Covid test, although many require proof of vaccination.

The South Korean government also announced Wednesday that in the third quarter it will begin inoculation with new-generation vaccines that are more effective against the dominant BA.5 Omicron variant, and that those over 60 or with immune problems will have priority.

Starting in September, the first South Korean vaccine to be approved, SKYCovione, developed by SK Bioscience, will also begin to be distributed.

South Korea, with a population of 51.6 million, has been reporting around 100,000 new daily infections in recent days and since the beginning of the pandemic it has accumulated just over 23,246,000 cases and just over 26,000 deaths. EFE


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