South Korea warns of first potential lockdown as coronavirus numbers continue to rise

The ruling, which got here into power Wednesday, required all overseas employees within the capital to endure coronavirus screenings, or face fines of up to 2 million Korean gained ($1,775).

In a information launch from the town authorities Friday, Seoul City officers stated they might now solely advocate overseas employees employed at high-risk companies with dense and unventilated working environments endure testing by March 31. The metropolis additionally advisable South Korean nationals working on the similar companies get examined, the discharge added.

The coverage has already been introduced into place in neighboring Gyeonggi province in addition to a number of different cities and provinces. It just isn’t clear whether or not different provinces will observe Seoul’s steps.

The coverage had been labeled by many as xenophobic and discriminatory, with ruling get together lawmaker Lee Sang-min describing it as an “unjust racist action against foreigners” and warning that it could end in “international embarrassment.”

Seoul City officers had beforehand denied the coverage was discriminatory, pointing to statistics displaying the proportion of overseas residents amongst confirmed Covid-19 circumstances within the capital had jumped from 2.2% final yr to 6.3% this month. “I ask for people’s participation and think of this as a measure to protect the individual’s safety rather than discrimination,” stated Seoul City official Song Eun-cheol earlier Friday.

The ruling had threatened to create one thing of a diplomatic incident, nevertheless, with a rising checklist of nations, together with the United States and United Kingdom, voicing their opposition.

British ambassador to South Korea Simon Smith posted a video to Twitter Thursday wherein he stated, “we consider these measures are not fair, they are not proportionate, nor are they likely to be effective.” Smith stated he had additionally raised the difficulty with South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission.

Canada’s ambassador Micheal Danagher retweeted the put up, saying he and different ambassadors had been making related representations. Rebukes by ambassadors to the federal government of their host nation are uncommon, though the embassies stopped quick of advising their nationals to not observe authorities rules.

The US Embassy in Seoul additionally tweeted Friday, “We have raised our concerns with senior level Korean authorities and are advocating strongly for fair and equitable treatment of all US citizens in our shared efforts to stop the pandemic.”

Both Seoul City and South Korean well being officers had beforehand averted direct questions concerning the epidemiological causes for testing foreigners however not their Korean colleagues.


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