• Fact Check: How Effective Are Travel Restrictions Against Coronavirus?

online petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website
online petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website

Calls are growing in South Korea to ban all visitors from China amid mounting fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The government is facing pressure from civic groups and political parties that are claiming over 133 countries have already imposed entry restrictions on travelers from China.

But as our Julie Sohn explains, their claims using reports by some media outlets could be misleading.


An online petition calling for a ban on visitors from China from entering Korea on Cheong Wa Dae's website has garnered over 761,000 signatures since it was posted late last month.

Opposition lawmakers have also been calling for an immediate travel restriction on all foreigners who visited any parts of mainland China.

They are claiming that the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating because the government has not imposed such an entry ban, quoting domestic and foreign media reports that over 133 countries have already done so.

However, according to data posted on the Chinese National Immigration Agency's website, about 30 out of 133 countries listed, including Australia, Japan and the United States, are taking measures similar to South Korea such as suspension of flights and temporary travel restrictions to and from Wuhan, which is known to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

Other countries, including Germany and France, are merely strengthening quarantine measures, such as testing body temperature of inbound travelers.

Italy and Iran, which have suspended direct flights from China, meanwhile, have seen a significant increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising questions about the effectiveness of travel bans in preventing the spread of the virus.

The South Korean government maintains that it is realistically difficult to virtually close its borders with China, given bilateral diplomatic and economic relations between them.

The World Health Organization advises that measures to limit the risk of the spread of the virus should be implemented without unnecessary restrictions of international traffic.

Julie Sohn, eFM News.■

<Photo: Yonhap News>
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