Airport quarantine officials complain of overwork

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : March 19, 2020, 18:13 | Updated : March 19, 2020, 18:13

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- A top quarantine official at South Korea's main gateway, complained of a heavy workload, saying many travelers from abroad voluntarily report symptoms related to a new coronavirus after quarantine measures were tightened at airports.

There have been calls for a complete entry ban on foreign travelers, but South Korea puts all travelers, foreign or domestic, into fever checks at airports. They should submit papers on health conditions and download a smartphone app for monitoring by local government officials for two weeks during their stay in South Korea.

"There are so many confirmed cases in Europe and the United States that they are coming back to South Korea in an 'exodus' situation," Kim Sang-hee, who heads a quarantine team at Incheon International Airport west of Seoul. On a single day on March 17, 367 out 1,989 travelers reported symptoms.

Due to the lack of quarantine officials and facilities for temporary isolation, some travelers had to wait for 12 hours. "It's hard to accommodate even if we have many facilities," Kim said when Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun made an on-site inspection on Thursday.

"The situation abroad is not so good that preemptive measures to block this impact are more important than ever," Chung said. The government would double the number of temporary isolation facilities, along with reinforcements including military medical staff.

 
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