[Notice] COVID-19 cases jump on mainland as Seoul raises alert level to ‘highest’; Jeju ramps up prevention measures

Over the weekend, the COVID-19 crisis on mainland Korea and Jeju Island has changed rapidly. Here is an overview. We will be updating on developments on Jeju Island and the nation throughout the week.

On the mainland:

– Infection numbers have increased substantially. As of Monday morning the total number cases stands at over 600 (up from just 100 on Friday), according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). There have been six fatalities.

– Seoul raised the nation’s alert level to “red”, the highest level of four in the face of hundreds of additional COVID-19 cases that were confirmed on the mainland over the weekend. The previous “red” alert level was over a decade ago during the Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak.

– Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the next seven to 10 days will be “the most crucial juncture in the fight” against COVID-19. He said that “all possible measures” to prevent further spread of the potentially fatal illness will be put into effect. This includes “unprecedented powerful” measures by local and national authorities to contain the spread of the virus.

– Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kun will lead a team in charge of coordinating the nation’s COVID-19 action plan, the first time this has happened in Korea.

– Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said the start of the school year has also been delayed by a week to March 9 for all students around the country.

 

On Jeju Island:

– Jeju Island has two confirmed COVID-19 patients being treated in local hospitals. Officials traced the movements of the second confirmed patient, a hotel worker in Seogwipo, and alerted the public at the weekend of areas that may have exposed the public to the virus. The WE Hotel, a clinic and hospital, Seogwipo E-Mart, and several buses were subject to closures and/or intensive disinfection measures.

– As of Sunday, a total of 324 people have been tested for COVID-19 on Jeju Island. Of these, two tested positive and 77 remain under observation by medical officials. The remaining 245 have been released from hospital and are all under quarantine at home.

– The Governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, Won Heeryong, is calling two emergency meetings per day to coordinate with health authorities and government officials around the island.

– The provincial government’s Emergency Management Agency announced that due to Seoul’s raising of the national alert level to “red”, some public facilities, including public libraries, will be closed from Monday, Feb. 24.

– As with other seasonal festivals, it was announced that this year’s Jeju Fire Festival, which was scheduled for March 13-15, has now been canceled.

코로나19 비상대책회의 (6)
Governor Won Heeryong, third from left, and Jeju Special Self-Governing Province’s COVID-19 emergency response team at a meeting Sunday.

Jeju officials are working hard to ensure that islanders and visitors remain safe. This includes suspending its visa-free status for 62 countries (click here for the list). Prevention and disinfection protocols are in effect in public areas (including buses and bus stops) and at private businesses (restaurants, hotels, tourist destinations.)

Everyone is encouraged to increase their vigilance in preventative measures, including washing one’s hands at least eight times a day for 30 seconds or more, wearing masks when at public facilities and ensuring that everyone consults a medical professional if one feels unwell. Here is a list of local hospitals.

If you have any questions regarding your plans to travel to Jeju Island, please do contact the Jeju Tourist Information Center at for the latest updates and advice (online chat during regular business hours).

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