No PCR tests for inbound travelers to S. Korea from Saturday
A picture shows a temporary COVID-19 testing station at Incheon International Airport, Friday. (Yonhap)
South Korea will completely lift the requirement for a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test for travelers entering the country starting from Saturday, the country‘s health authorities said Friday.
From Saturday, inbound travelers will no longer have to take a PCR test within a day of their arrival, Second Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il said during a COVID-19 response meeting on Friday.
Until Friday, a PCR test has been mandated, and inbound travelers have been required to take the test within the next day after their entry into the country.
The government decided to lift the PCR requirement as infections from overseas have decreased recently. According to Lee, the proportion of infections from overseas has decreased to amount to 0.9 percent in September from 1.3 percent the previous month.
Lee added that the government's decision is also based on the low fatality rate of the BA.5 subvariant.
Those travelers who want to take a PCR test can still take it for free within three days of their arrival.
However, Lee noted that the government could reinstate the PCR mandate at any time in the future if the number of COVID-19 infections rebounds.
Meanwhile, the government on Friday also said it would begin allowing in-person visits at facilities that are considered vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, such as nursing homes, starting on Tuesday next week.
Lee explained that the number of infections at vulnerable facilities also has decreased 64 percent from 3,015 in August to 1,075 in September. The second booster rate at the facilities has reached 90.3 percent, making it safe enough to lift the rule that limits in-person visits.
By Shim Woo-hyun (email@example.com