Image: Yonhap News
South Korea is moving to revise law to require foreign coronavirus patients to cover the costs of their treatment amid a spike in the number of new infections among foreigners arriving from abroad.
The decision was reached on Sunday during a pan-governmental COVID-19 meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, chaired by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun.
Under the current law, in-hospital care and treatment costs for confirmed patients are covered by the government regardless of nationality.
The health ministry will be in charge of revising regulations to demand treatment costs from foreigners who know they are infected with COVID-19 yet travel to Korea, and those who test positive for the coronavirus during their two-week quarantine period upon arrival.
The government intends to apply the envisioned new rule initially only to those caught violating quarantine rules and will review expanding the scope depending on the virus situation.
The government will also review possible provision of financial support to overseas South Korean nationals who become infected with COVID-19 and need treatment.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said charging foreigners for the costs of treatment will take into consideration the principle of reciprocity in diplomatic relations.
However, he stressed that coronavirus tests will remain free for all nationalities, as they are part of domestic safety measures.
On Sunday, South Korea reported 58 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total caseload to 14,150.
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