South Korea withdraws mandatory on-arrival Covid-19 tests

Seoul, Sep 30 (EFE).- South Korea announced Friday the withdrawal of mandatory PCR tests upon arrival, the last of Covid-19 restrictions for inbound travelers.

All those who arrive in the country after midnight on Oct. 1 will no longer have to undergo a test to detect the presence of the virus, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced.

Travelers arriving in South Korea – where a mandatory seven-day quarantine is still required in case of a positive test result -, who experience symptoms linked to the coronavirus during the first three days of their stay will be able to undergo a free PCR test in public health centers across the country, the KDCA said.

Until now, it was mandatory for all travelers to undergo a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival.

Failure to do so was punishable by up to 11 months in prison or a 10 million won (about $6,990) fine.

The decision marks the end of all restrictions imposed on travel to South Korea during the pandemic.

In early September, the authorities had also scrapped the pre-departure Covid-19 test requirement.

The decision to withdraw the mandatory on-arrival PCR tests occurs amid declining daily cases of between 20,000 and 30,000 and a drop in coronavirus deaths in South Korea.

Since the start of the pandemic, the country has recorded around 24.7 million infections and just over 28,000 deaths.

The South Korean government expects another spike in cases in winter and considers the pandemic to be in its final phase.

However, Deputy Health Minister Lee Ki-il said at a meeting with officials on Friday that the authorities do not rule out reimposing restrictions for travelers if new dangerous variants of the virus are detected or if the global situation of the pandemic worsens. EFE


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