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S.Korea calls on Thailand to ease travel ban as new cases emerge in Seoul

SOUTH Korea is among several countries urging Thailand to relax the travel ban and allow its business people and the private sector to again come here but their country has seen a new spike in infections centred around nightclubs and bars in Seoul, INN News and Reuters reported today (14.5.2020).

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha this morning conferred with the National Economics and Social Development Council team with their economic input to be used in possibly further easing of the coronavirus lockdown at tomorrow’s full Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting.

The Thai-South Korean talks were held between Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and South Korean Ambassador Lee Wook-heon with the latter urging that travel ban be eased to allow businessmen and the private sector to travel here from his country.

Mr Somkid told him that he would discuss with the Foreign Ministry whether this would be possible and it would also have to be in accordance with public health measures with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration also having to consider it.

At the same time Mr Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to the Prime Minister, said South Korea had pointed out that they have now allowed this category of travelers from China, Hong Kong and Vietnam to visit their country. However these travelers have to undergo health check and are quarantined and checked again, this could be twice, before they are let in, and the quarantine could be up to 14 days.

South Korea also mentioned that while both countries had to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, the bigger issue is the economy which has to be pushed through travel, trade and investment. South Korea also wants to be removed from the list of dangerous contagious countries.

Mr Kobsak added that a number of other countries had contacted Thailand to relax the travel restriction. Hong Kong too is eager for this relaxation because it has managed to control the Covid-19 infection rate up to a certain level.  However doing so takes time and needs discussions with the Foreign Ministry.

However he added that tourism could not be reopened yet even though both this and the export sector have been heavily hit by the coronavirus lockdown, while urging the operators to accept the situation.

Meanwhile a Reuters report published by Swissinfor.ch  quoted South Korean health authorities as saying today that they would revise their practice of publicising the travel routes of coronavirus patients due to fears of a backlash against people who attended nightclubs at the centre of a new outbreak.

After weeks of nearly no new domestic coronavirus cases, South Korea has seen a new spike in infections centred around nightclubs and bars in some of Seoul’s most popular nightlife neighbourhoods.

Investigators have struggled to find around 2,000 people wanted for testing, an effort complicated by public criticism of the clubgoers, as well as concerns about discrimination as several of the clubs cater to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.

While clubs and bars were required to log the names and contact phone numbers for all visitors as a condition of reopening, much of the information turned out to be incomplete or false, officials said.

That has left officials combing through cellphone location data and CCTV footage to try to identify some customers, while publicly pleading for people to come forward and be tested.

Officials say they understand some individuals may fear social stigmatisation, and have promised to try to reduce the amount of information usually released about confirmed patients.

South Korea has typically released information like a patient’s age, gender, and places visited immediately before testing positive, as well as in some cases, patients’ last names and general occupations.

South Korea reported 29 new cases as of midnight Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to 10,991 with 260 deaths.

CAPTION:

File Photo: Quarantine worker spray disinfectants at a night club on the night spots in the Itaewon neighborhood, following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Seoul on May 12, 2020. Yonhap/via REUTERS and published by Swissinfor.ch

 

Nina
I am veteran journalist and part of ThaiNewsroom.com’s editorial team. We are working hard at making this news site a success and value the support of each and every reader
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