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(LEAD) Virus-infected foreign arrivals required to cover treatment costs

Politics 14:16 August 17, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; CLARIFIES throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) -- Foreign arrivals infected with the new coronavirus are required to share the costs of their treatment here from Monday, with those who violate local rules being obligated to fully pay the bill.

Health authorities said they will request COVID-infected foreign arrivals to pay the costs for their medical services if they are found to have violated quarantine rules.

From Aug. 24, the country will charge them a different amount by considering the principle of reciprocity in diplomatic relations, according to the authorities.

South Korea has been providing free medical services to all COVID-19 patients reported here, including foreigners.

People arriving from abroad are guided to undergo quarantine procedures in the arrival hall at Incheon airport, west of Seoul, on Aug. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

There have been growing calls for foreign arrivals to share the burden, as the prolonged virus pandemic is poised to further burden taxpayers.

South Korea has been cautious about changing its free-of-charge treatment policy due to diplomatic issues.

Even under the new policy, South Korea, however, will still exempt all costs for foreigners who are infected with the virus here or foreign residents who are settled here and pay taxes in order to curb community spread.

Foreigners enrolled in the country's public health care insurance will also be eligible for state support.

The country reported 197 more cases of the new coronavirus on Monday as it battles sporadic outbreaks in Seoul and its neighboring area amid growing fears of resurgence in the greater Seoul area.

The additional COVID-19 cases, including 188 local infections, raised the country's total caseload to 15,515, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Of the new cases, 188 were local transmissions.


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