Fear grows over new variant stronger than Delta

Fear grows over new variant stronger than Delta

Arrivals from overseas undergo quarantine procedures at Incheon International Airport, Sunday, amid concerns over the inflow of the Omicron variant into the nation. Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki

Gov’t bans entry from 8 African nations

By Bahk Eun-ji

Concerns are growing over the possible spread of a new COVID-19 variant here, following rapid overseas transmission of the Omicron mutation which is believed to be stronger than the currently dominant Delta strain.

Although its potential threat is yet to be known compared with other strains, experts are urging the government to take as strong measures as possible to prevent the inflow of the new variant, designated as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, given that the country’s antivirus response is already facing challenges amid a surge of infections in recent weeks.

As the first step of its preventive measures, the government started to ban entry to Korea of foreign nationals from eight African countries from Sunday. Those nations are South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Nationals of the countries are denied visa issuance for Korea, except for very limited cases such as attending a relative’s funeral.

Those from the countries who try to enter Korea through a stopover at a third country are also not allowed. Currently, there are no direct flights between Korea and these eight countries.

For Korean nationals living abroad in the countries, they must be quarantined at isolated living facilities for 10 days even if they have been vaccinated or tested negative in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

No Omicron variant cases have been reported in Korea yet, while it has been reported in several countries outside Africa.

“It is said the Omicron cases in Hong Kong, the U.K. and Italy were from African nations including South Africa and Mozambique,” an official of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said, Sunday. “We’ll keep monitoring on the risk level and the speed of transmission of the variant, and expand the countries to ban entry if necessary.”

Health authorities said they plan to develop and distribute a PCR test method that can detect the Omicron variant.

In the meantime, health experts warn that the number of daily new cases could rise as high as 100,000 next year in the worst-case scenario. Currently the nation is seeing around 4,000 daily new infections.

“If we fail to control the current virus spreading trend, the number of daily cases can reach 25,000 in the first half of next year, and in the worst case, 80,000 to 100,000 people will be confirmed a day,” Jung Jae-hun, an assistant professor of Gachon University’s preventive medicine department, said in a recent meeting with Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae at the Government Complex Seoul, Thursday.

Jung also said the government needs to persuade people in the age group of 12 to 17 to get vaccinated, while actively procuring oral treatments for COVID-19.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Korean stocks plunge on US rate hike, Omicron fears

A signboard at Hana Bank shows the KOSPI closing at 2,614.49, Thursday, down 3.5 percent from the previous day’s close, after the U.S. Federal Reserve stated it would hike its ... Read more »

KDB chief slams EU for being 'selfish' in declining HHI-DSME merger

Korea Development Bank (KDB) Chairman Lee Dong-gull speaks during a press conference in this file photo take in 2018. Yonhap By Yi Whan-woo Korea Development Bank (KDB) Chairman Lee Dong-gull ... Read more »

Youn Yuh-jung, Lee Min-ho's 'Pachinko' set for global release in March

Actors Lee Min-ho, right, and Kim Min-ha in a scene from Apple TV+ series “Pachinko”/ Courtesy of Apple TV+ By Kwak Yeon-soo The much-anticipated Apple TV+ series “Pachinko” will be ... Read more »

POSCO's restructuring plan angers Pohang residents

Politicians from Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, speak during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul, Thursday, to protest POSCO’s plan to set up a holding company in Seoul. ... Read more »

ICT minister hints at delay of 5G spectrum license auction

Science and ICT Minister Lim Hye-sook speaks during a press conference at the Sejong Government Complex, Thursday. Yonhap By Lee Kyung-min An auction for 5G spectrum licenses in the 20MHz ... Read more »

Netmarble looking for cash cow in metaverse, blockchain

By Baek Byung-yeul Bang Jun-hyuk, chairman of Netmarble, speaks during a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Seoul, Thursday. Courtesy of Netmarble Netmarble is actively seeking new business opportunities ... Read more »

Experts call for easing age limit for antiviral pills, aggressive testing to flatten COVID curve

People stand in line to receive a COVID-19 test at a testing center near Seoul Station, Thursday. Yonhap By Lee Hyo-jin Korea is grappling with its worst COVID-19 crisis yet, ... Read more »

Samsung to readjust investment plans due to global supply chain disruption

Tech giant posts record sales of 279 tril. won in 2021 By Baek Byung-yeul Samsung Electronics will readjust its 2022 investment plans in accordance with the rapidly changing business environment ... Read more »

Korea's plan to win MSCI developed market status faces difficulties

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki speaks during a ministerial meeting at Government Complex in Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap Korea seeks inclusion in watch list for MSCI developed markets index By Lee Min-hyung ... Read more »

Lotte takes big leap forward with future-oriented investments

Lotte Chemical inks a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Indonesian government officials for the LINE project on January 7, 2022. The project aims to construct a $3.9 billion petrochemical complex ... Read more »

EcoProBM under investigation on suspicion of insider trading

EcoPro Chairman Lee Dong-chae, left, speaks during a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony at Pohang City Hall in North Gyeongsang Province in this September 2021 file photo. Yonhap By Park ... Read more »

'Concrete Utopia' sequel underway with star-studded cast

From left, actors Lee Jun-young, Ma Dong-seok and Roh Jeong-eui / Korea Times file By Kwak Yeon-soo “The Wilderness” (working title), which is known to be the sequel to the ... Read more »

[Election 101] TV debates, where the ‘real battle' takes place

From left: Ruling Democratic Party of Korea candidate Lee Jae-myung; People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol; Justice Party candidate Sim Sang-jung; People Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo (Yonhap)The main opposition People ... Read more »

More than 10 K-pop stars test positive for COVID-19 in one week

Donghan of K-pop act WEi / Courtesy of OUI Entertainment By Dong Sun-hwa The K-pop scene is on high alert after more than 10 singers have tested positive for COVID-19 ... Read more »

Yoon pledges to overhaul presidential office, working methods

Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol (Yonhap)Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol vowed Thursday to build a new presidential office at the Seoul Government Complex in Gwanghwamun and return the existing Cheong Wa Dae ... Read more »

Top court confirms 2-yr prison term for ex-environment minister in power abuse case

Former Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung (C) arrives at the Seoul Central District Court on Feb. 9, 2021, to attend a sentencing hearing over alleged abuse of power. The court sentenced ... Read more »

N. Korea to assume rotational presidency of UN disarmament conference

This photo, captured from North Korea’s Central TV last Tuesday, shows one of two tactical guided missiles that the North test-fired from a transporter erector launcher toward an island target ... Read more »

PPP proposes Yoon-Lee debate on top of TV debate

In this file photo, Yoon Suk-yeol (L), the presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, and Lee Jae-myung, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, attend an event ... Read more »

Andaz Seoul Gangnam launches 'Love Yourself' package for MZ generation

Andaz Seoul Gangnam presents a “Love Yourself” package, in which guests can have a body profile photo session during their stay, in limited quantity from Jan. 24 to Apr. 30. ... Read more »

JW Marriott Hotel Seoul presents Yut-Nori with Black Tiger package

JW Marriott Hotel Seoul presents a Yut-Nori with Black Tiger package from this Friday to Feb. 6 to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Courtesy of JW Marriott Hotel Seoul By ... Read more »

Hyundai Motor, Kia appoint new chief safety officers

The headquarters of Hyundai Motor and Kia in southern Seoul / Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group By Anna J. Park In a move to respond proactively to the country’s strengthened ... Read more »

LG Energy Solution debuts after $13 trillion frenzy in Korea's biggest IPO

The logo of LG Energy Solution is pictured at its office building in Seoul, Nov. 23, 2021. Reuters-Yonhap Shares of battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd (LGES) debut on Thursday ... Read more »

Seoul monitoring situation after N. Korea hit by suspected cyber attack

(123rf)The Seoul government is keeping tabs on North Korea following reports it was hit by a suspected cyber attack the previous day, an official said Thursday. On Wednesday, Reuters said ... Read more »

Korea's daily COVID-19 cases surpass 14,000 amid rapid Omicron spread

Health workers wearing protective gears stand to help visitors at a temporary screening clinic for the coronavirus near the Seoul City Hall in Seoul, Jan. 26. AP-Yonhap Korea’s daily COVID-19 ... Read more »

N.Korea fires two suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea: JCS

(File Photo – Yonhap)North Korea on Thursday fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles from South Hamgyong Province toward its east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The South ... Read more »

Samsung Electronics' operating profit up by 53.3% in Q4

Samsung Electronics building in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul / Yonhap Samsung Electronics’ operating profit was up by 53.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 driven by record annual sales, the ... Read more »

N. Korea fires unidentified projectile toward East Sea: S. Korean military

This photo, captured from North Korea`s Central TV on Jan. 18, 2022, shows one of two tactical guided missiles that the North test-fired from a transporter erector launcher toward an ... Read more »

Many 'promising things' can happen if N. Korea comes to dialogue table: Lambert

Mark Lambert, deputy assistant secretary of state for Korea and Japan, is seen speaking in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank on ... Read more »

PEFs eyeing Osstem Implant

The headquarters of Osstem Implant in Seoul / Courtesy of Osstem Implant By Anna J. Park Despite the ongoing risks surrounding Osstem Implant stemming from an employee’s embezzlement of some ... Read more »

KCCI chairman to conduct first major reshuffle

The front of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry building (KCCI) / Korea Times file By Kim Hyun-bin The Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industries (KCCI) Chairman Chey Tae-won ... Read more »

Senior diplomats of S. Korea, Russia hold phone talks over N. Korea

This photo, captured from North Korea`s Central TV on Jan. 18, 2022, shows one of two tactical guided missiles that the North test-fired from a transporter erector launcher toward an ... Read more »

Lotte Department Store CEO working to change company culture

Lotte Department Store in Gangnam, Seoul / Courtesy of Lotte Shopping By Kim Jae-heun Lotte Department Store’s new CEO Jung Jun-ho is striving to change the authoritarian leadership style that ... Read more »

CJ Logistics delivery workers' strike spreads to Lotte, Hanjin

Union representatives from the Lotte, Hanjin, Korea Post and Logen logistics firms hold a press conference in front of CJ Logistics’ building in Seoul, Dec. 30, 2021. Yonhap By Kim ... Read more »

Woowa Brothers pressed to earn more for Delivery Hero

From left, Woowa Brothers founder Kim Bong-jin and Delivery Hero CEO Niklas Oestberg / Korea Times file By Kim Jae-heun Woowa Brothers, the operator of the country’s No. 1 food ... Read more »

SAE-A Trading workers ordered to wear company brand clothes only

SAE-A Trading CEO James Ha / Courtesy of SAE-A Trading By Kim Jae-heun The head of a major apparel maker has been in the hot seat for sending emails to ... Read more »

##Seoul in conundrum over NK preemptive strike option

#Seoul faces conundrum over NK preemptive strike optionKicker — N. Korea’s mounting threats increase necessity of preemptive plan By Ji Da-gyum If South Korea faces an imminent attack from nuclear-armed ... Read more »

Lunar New Year drawings warding off evil spirits adorn Gwanghwamun

A set of “munbaedo,” or traditional drawings to ward off evil spirits, is hung on Gwanghwamun, the main gate to Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap By Park Han-sol ... Read more »

POSCO restructuring plan edges closer to realization

POSCO CEO Choi Jeong-woo By Lee Kyung-min Korea’s steel giant POSCO said Wednesday that it is nearing the completion of its corporate restructuring plan, whereby an envisioned holding firm will ... Read more »

Federation of Banks chief warns of cyber risks amid digitalization

Korea Federation of Banks (KFB) Chairman Kim Gwang-soo speaks during an online conference held at the KFB headquarters in Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap Kim asks presidential candidates to rectify ‘uneven playing ... Read more »

Gov't standard for vaccine completion confusing

Medical workers check COVID-19 self-test kits at a public health center in Anseong, 77 kilometers south of Seoul, Wednesday, a day before the introduction of new quarantine rules, under which ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic