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Asia Minute: South Korea Increases Airport Testing for Arrivals

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
A woman wearing a face mask passes by a poster about precautions against the new coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Passengers arriving at Hawaii airports are now being sent to 14 days of self-quarantine. On the same day that policy took effect in the state, a different kind of airport screening started in South Korea.

South Korea’s sprawling Incheon International Airport now has 16 open-air testing booths at five locations spread around the airport’s two terminals. The Korea Herald reports they are capable of testing up to 2,000 people a day for COVID-19 — at a pace of testing one person every five minutes.

South Korea has stepped up testing at the airport as well as screening and quarantine requirements. The government reported 104 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday – nearly a third of them detected during airport quarantine screening.

Starting today, any arrival coming from the United States showing any symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus will be moved to a quarantine station and tested. Any returning Korean national or anyone who plans a long stay in South Korea is now required to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine, even if they show no symptoms.

Foreigners coming into the country need to download an app that lets them regularly report on the state of their health during their quarantine. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone who does not download the app will not be allowed into the country.

Penalties for violating self-quarantine are strict – any foreigner breaking quarantine will immediately be deported. Korean citizens breaking quarantine face fines of up to about 8,000 dollars and imprisonment for up to a year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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