*This Korea coronavirus update will post the latest report every week. 

Korea Covid-19 in Numbers (as of January 1, 2024)

  • Total Number of Cases:  34,571,873

  • Total Number of Recovered Patients: 34,535,939

  • Total Number of Reported Deaths: 35,934

*Data lifted from the latest Worldometers.info report and the CDC.

For the purpose of discussion and due to the unavailability of data from North Korea, this Korea coronavirus update will focus on the South Korea coronavirus update. 

korea coronavirus update

What Is the Current COVID-19 Situation in South Korea?

South Korea is among those Asian countries that were badly hit by the ongoing health crisis. But they are not as severely affected compared with their neighbouring regions. South Korea was able to contain the spread of the virus. Thanks to the immediate response of the government when it comes to testing, contact tracing, and isolation. As of writing, South Korea has an inoculation rate of 12.8%

The success of the coronavirus containment was partly due to the unwavering support and cooperation of the citizens. When the government imposed the use of invasive contact tracing, they were able to track the infection pathway and identify individuals who have exposure to the infected person. 

South Korea has prepared itself well by launching the Epidemic Investigation Support System, a platform that automated contact tracing. This platform allowed officials to complete the contract tracing within minutes, reducing the spread of the virus instantly. 

Despite this, however, the risk of infection remains high in the country. More recently, a surge in the number of positive cases was reported as the country eased much of the restrictions and social distancing measures by allowing establishments to start their operations. 

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Is It Safe To Travel To South Korea Now?

Based on the latest Korea coronavirus update, travel safety to South Korea at this time involves caution as there are several areas where a virus cluster is present. 

Transit passengers must submit to a temperature check upon their arrival in Korea. Those with pertinent symptoms related to COVID-19 will need to undergo testing and hospitalization if found positive. Individuals not exhibiting any symptoms and having negative tests will be allowed to continue on their journey. The government has recently announced that fully vaccinated individuals will no longer need to undergo quarantine. 

As of the latest Korea coronavirus update, the government no longer requires foreign visitors to be vaccinated to enter the country.

Most travelers are allowed entry into the country. However, please do note that the government enforces “distancing in daily life” as part of its approach to managing COVID-19 cases. This approach means that while most stores and public establishments are open, both the local and national governments have full authority to regulate gatherings as they deem necessary.  

An announcement was recently made that indoor mask-wearing will be lifted.

What Are the Requirements if I Need to Travel to South Korea Now?

If you are travelling to South Korea, you may need to arm yourself with the proper information. 

All individuals travelling to South Korea no longer need to undergo quarantine except for those coming from high-risk countries. 

Visitors from countries with a visa-free or visa-waiver agreement with the Republic of Korea whose main reason for visiting the country is for business, tourism, discussion, conference, or short-term study must apply for  K-ETA (Korean Electronic Travel Authority). APEC cardholders may enter the country without a visa or K-ETA.

While in South Korea, all foreign nationals and short-term travellers must be aware that they should adhere to the rules set by the government. The Korean government has made it clear that failure to comply with self-quarantine and treatment measures can result in deportation, visa revocation, entry ban, and liability for economic losses due to the transmission of the virus. 

It is also mandatory for all travellers to have an available phone number where officials can contact them. A hotel phone number will not do. They must also have a mobile device to install self-diagnosis and contact tracing apps.

Are There South Korean Flights Available Now?

Yes, the South Korean government is now open for travellers, with regular flights in resumption. For high-risk countries, flights remain limited. However, travellers from low-risk countries do not have restrictions. 

Korea Coronavirus Update: What Safety Health Practices Must I Observe While in South Korea?

If you are travelling to South Korea, it is mandatory to observe the necessary measures to protect yourself and others from getting the COVID-19 infection. There are no curfews in place, but there are intercity restrictions in the country at the moment, particularly for those entering Korea from abroad. 

Note that restrictions have been relaxed, and those who want to travel around South Korea can do so with the appropriate precautions:

  • Submit to contact tracing requirements. Korea has developed QR code-based access to high-risk facilities such as restaurants, bars, clubs, and other entertainment areas.
  • Maintain at least six feet distance and avoid any contact with anyone who is not a member of your travel party.
  • Keep your hands always clean by washing them with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer.
  • Always wear a medical mask and face shield, and keep your face protected when in public places. 
  • Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Avoid any contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, do not travel.
  • Keep yourself informed about the local news, as they can impose notices once they note that cases are rising. 

After you travel, you must still take extra caution to protect yourself and others from the disease further. Your travel exposed you to the risk of COVID-19, and you may have the virus already without knowing it. You will put your friends, family, and community at risk for 14 days after exposure to the virus. You should take these actions to avoid the further spread of the virus:

  • As much as possible, stay at home.
  • Avoid interacting with other people.
  • Undergo testing for COVID-19 infection.

Note: This Korea coronavirus update was first published in October 2020 and has been updated to include the latest developments.

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