Canadian Embassy News: COVID-19 Update for Canadian Citizens in Korea

As of yesterday, the Government of Canada Travel Advice for South Korea has been updated with Risk level – Exercise a high degree of caution.

South Korea has reports of sustained community spreading of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). On February 23, 2020, the South Korean government raised its virus alert to the highest level (red). Local authorities have put control measures in place and have designated Daegu and Cheongdo as “special care zones” following a growing number of cases emerging in these two cities. You may be asked to self-isolate based on your health condition, previous location or contact with others.

Residents of Daegu have been advised by local authorities to stay indoors as much as possible and to avoid crowds.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has also increased its level of risk in its travel health notice for South Korea at ‘Practise Special Precautions’.

Cases of COVID-19 were first reported in Wuhan, China, but have since been reported in other locations around the world.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person, and in South Korea cases have been confirmed in all provinces and sustained community spread of the virus is being reported. This means it is unknown how or where some people became infected, and the spread is ongoing.

Available information indicates that older people and people with a weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.  Those travellers may want to consider postponing travel due to control measures implemented in certain parts of the country that could potentially impact access to timely health care.

We encourage Canadians to:
•       Read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s latest update on COVID-19.
o       Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in South Korea – Public Health Agency of Canada
o       Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update – Public Health Agency of Canada
•       Follow the instructions of local authorities.
•       Monitor the news for the latest developments on the evolving situation.
•       Expect increased health screening measures at points of entry, including airports.
•       If you’re leaving South Korea, check your destination’s entry and exit requirements and restrictions specific to the current situation with the nearest foreign diplomatic mission or consulate.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel or stay abroad.

Please continue to check our travel advice and advisories website at travel.gc.ca/destinations/south-korea for updates.

General recommendations for travellers:

Spending time in large crowds or crowded areas can increase your risk of getting sick.

Travellers should take precautions against respiratory and other illnesses while travelling, and seek medical attention if they become sick.

Travellers are reminded to follow usual health precautions:

Wash your hands:
•       Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
•       Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available. It’s a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.

Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
•       Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
•       If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.

Monitor your health:
•       If you become sick when you are travelling or after you return, avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional. Tell them:
o       your symptoms;
o       where you have been travelling or living;
o       if you have had direct contact with animals (for example: visited a live animal market) or close contact with a sick person.

If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, inform the flight attendant or a Canadian border services officer.

Korean authorities strongly recommend Canadians who have been in contact with (a) Coronavirus victim(s) or are suffering from suspected symptoms of Coronavirus infection to visit a nearest public healthcare entre or a public medical center and receive proper checkup and treatment.

If you have already left and are no longer in South Korea, please send an email to our Registration of Canadians Abroad email address at [email protected] in order to end your registration in our system.

Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should call the Canadian embassy in Seoul at +82 2 3783 6000 or toll free at 001 800 2326 6831 or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa directly at +1 613 996 8885 (collect calls are accepted where available).  An email can also be sent to [email protected].

We encourage you to stay connected with the latest travel advice and advisories, via the web at http://travel.gc.ca our mobile TravelSmart application, available at http://travel.gc.ca/mobile and our RSS feeds at http://travel.gc.ca/rss. You may also follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CanEmbKorea or find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CanadainKorea/

In addition, please monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities.  The Korean Ministry of the Interior and Safety offers a free emergency assistance mobile application called Emergency Ready (available on Google Play and iTunes). The app allows users to contact 119 emergency services, locate the closest medical center or shelter and view videos related to First Aid.

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