South Korea scraps COVID tests for arrivals in travel boost


Travelers to the country will no longer have to submit a negative test result for the corona virus from Saturday.

South Korea scraps pre-departure COVID-19 testing for arrivals, lifting the last pandemic-related border controls to boost the country’s beleaguered travel industry.

Travelers to the country will no longer have to submit a negative test result for the coronavirus from Saturday, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

The change comes after a government advisory committee recommended ending mandatory PCR testing for inbound travelers.

South Korea is one of the region’s last economies to maintain strict border controls, although China, which has an ultra-strict “zero COVID” strategy, continues to impose extensive barriers to travel on Japan and Taiwan.

Asian countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, have lifted testing requirements in recent months as the region welcomes return trips after relying heavily on border restrictions earlier in the pandemic.

South Korea lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated tourists in April and lifted the quarantine for all arrivals regardless of vaccination status in July.

The East Asian country has reported some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the world in recent weeks, despite high vaccination rates and widespread mask wear, although the vast majority of infections have been mild.

The daily case count has hovered around 100,000 since the high of 180,000 in mid-August amid the proliferation of highly transmissible Omicron subvariants.

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