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(LEAD) 76 countries restricting entry from S. Korea over coronavirus concerns

Diplomacy 20:32 February 29, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES story with latest tally; ADDS more info in paras 2-10)
By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- Over 75 countries are imposing entry restrictions and stricter quarantine procedures for travelers from South Korea over coronavirus concerns, foreign ministry data showed Saturday, as the virus is spreading fast in the country, with infection cases topping 3,100.

As of late Saturday, 34 countries are barring the entry of South Koreans and foreigners who have visited the Asian country in the past few weeks, up from the previous tally of 30, according to the ministry website.

Malaysia, Lebanon and the Cook Islands in the South Pacific were the latest to enforce the measure. Kyrgyzstan will begin to impose entry bans Sunday, stepping up their restrictions from tougher quarantine procedures.

Forty-one countries, nine Chinese provinces, and the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Tianjin have tougher quarantine processes, most of which require a 14-day mandatory isolation and close monitoring.

Several Eastern European countries have joined the move, including Latvia, North Macedonia and Bulgaria. Angola, Gabon, Albania and Uzbekistan were also added to the list.

Many of these countries have added China, Japan, Singapore and Italy -- where major outbreaks of the virus have occurred -- on their quarantine lists.

South Korea added 813 additional cases of the novel virus Saturday, bringing total infections to 3,150, with 17 deaths.

Seoul has called for foreign countries to refrain from taking excessive entry restrictions against South Koreans. But the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak is prodding the countries to take action, from restricting entries and issuing travel alerts to reducing flights to and from Korea.

A South Korean plane bound for Vietnam had to return home less than an hour after its takeoff from Incheon on Saturday as the Vietnamese authorities did not allow the plane to land at the airport in Hanoi as scheduled.

The Southeast Asian country is among many others that have banned the entry of people from South Korea's two southeastern areas -- Daegu city and the nearby North Gyeongsang Province, where major outbreaks of the virus have occurred.

South Korea has also issued an advisory asking its citizens to reconsider or delay any planned trip to countries that have imposed entry restrictions, citing the inconvenience or safety issues that may occur.

Early Saturday, Seoul issued a "navy" travel alert, the lowest on a four-level scale, for all of Japan, advising its citizens to take precautions. The Fukushima region is currently under a higher alert following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Japan has reported at least 900 infection cases from the coronavirus, most of which come from the quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama.

(LEAD) 76 countries restricting entry from S. Korea over coronavirus concerns - 1

elly@yna.co.kr
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