Asia

COVID-19: Long-term visa holders required to undergo medical exam before returning to South Korea

SEOUL: Foreign long-term residents of South Korea will need to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving the country, and a medical exam before returning, to help stem coronavirus infections, according to government notices posted online.

Some foreign embassies began issuing notices dated on Thursday (May 21), and the new policies were outlined in Korean on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

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Asked about the notices, the presidential Blue House on Friday confirmed the changes but said the Ministry of Justice would make a formal announcement, possibly as soon as Sunday.

According to the notices, starting on Jun 1, South Korea will temporarily require re-entry permits, which are usually waived for long-term visa holders. If the permit is not obtained at a local immigration office before departing South Korea, the resident will lose their visa.

The provision does not apply to diplomatic or official visas or "overseas Korean" visas – given to people with a foreign parent or grandparent who once held Korean nationality.

Shortly before returning to South Korea, the resident will need to undergo a medical examination, and then present a signed certificate to immigration officials upon arrival.

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"The diagnosis shall be written in English or Korean, signed by a medical examiner and issued by an authorised medical institution," the Indian Embassy to South Korea said in a statement.

"It shall also include the date of examination and the presence or absence of fever, cough, chills, headache, breathing difficulty, muscle pain, and pulmonary symptoms."

Like all arrivals from overseas, returning long-term residents must still be tested and submit to a mandatory two-week quarantine, though they can self-isolate at home if they do not have symptoms.

READ: South Korea sticks with COVID-19 lockdown rollback despite nightclub outbreak

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