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(LEAD) More S. Korean workers return home from virus-hit Iraq

Welfare/Medicine 11:12 July 31, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES 2nd para)

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- Another group of South Korean workers returned home from virus-hit Iraq on Friday on a chartered plane, which may jack up imported cases here down the road, health authorities said.

The plane carrying 72 South Korean nationals who worked at Iraqi construction sites arrived at Incheon International Airport earlier in the day. Of the arrivals, 31 showed symptoms of the novel coronavirus, health authorities said.

South Korea last week airlifted 293 workers from Iraq on two military planes. Of them, 77 have tested positive for COVID-19.

Health workers guide South Korean workers returning home from virus-hit Iraq at Incheon International Airport in Incheon on July 31, 2020. (Yonhap)

The government decided to help South Korean nationals in Iraq following the worsening virus situation in the Middle East country. As of Friday, Iraq has reported 18,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 4,600 deaths, according to World Health Organization data.

The workers returning home will have to stay at a temporary shelter for two weeks even if they test negative for the novel coronavirus. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be transported to hospitals or treatment centers.

Since February, the government has provided chartered evacuation flights to bring back citizens from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic, as well as Japan, Iran, Peru, Italy and Ethiopia.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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