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South Korea to end pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for international arrivals

Travellers will still need to take a polymerase chain reaction test within the first 24 hours of their arrival in South Korea, said a health official. 

South Korea to end pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for international arrivals

Medical staff in protective gear taking samples from a foreign passenger at a coronavirus testing booth outside Incheon International Airport near Seoul. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je)

SEOUL: South Korea will end the pre-departure COVID-19 test rule for travellers to the country starting on Saturday (Sep 3), Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

South Korea lifted most of its pandemic-related restrictions in May but has maintained some of the strictest border measures among major economies, requiring inbound travellers to present a negative coronavirus test result taken before departure.

"All inbound travellers, whether our nationals or foreigners, arriving aboard a plane or ship will not need to hand in a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test starting midnight of Sep 3," Second Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il said in a virus response meeting.

The announcement of the new rule came as the government believes the recent virus wave has passed its peak and the spread of the Omicron variant could slow down, said the news agency. 

Currently, inbound travellers are required to show a negative result within 48 hours of their PCR tests or within 24 hours of their rapid antigen tests to enter the country. 

Travellers, however, still need to take a PCR test within the first 24 hours of their arrival in South Korea, a "minimum measure" put in place to prevent the inflow and spread of any variant from overseas, the vice minister said.

Daily COVID-19 infections in the country have been hovering around 100,000 in recent weeks after reaching more than 180,000 in mid-August.

On Wednesday, South Korea reported 103,961 new COVID-19 infections, including 458 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 23,246,398, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

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Source: Agencies/yb

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