• Tourists are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result two days prior to departure
  • Travelers also need to quarantine for 7 days upon arrival
  • South Korea topped 90,000 new cases for the first time on Tuesday

Americans hoping to travel to South Korea may need to undergo COVID-19 testing and quarantine prior to entering the East Asian country as cases caused by the Omicron variant continue to shatter records.

People from the United States traveling to South Korea are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken two days prior to their flight. Additionally, most foreign tourists must also undergo a week-long quarantine upon arrival. However, certain exceptions may apply.

Travelers who are unvaccinated may also enter the country, provided they have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of their scheduled departure. However, they may be asked to provide negative Antigen or PCR test results to enter certain buildings in Seoul, according to guidelines from the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea.

Despite the recent guidelines, Americans are urged not to travel to Seoul due to widespread COVID-19.

On Tuesday, South Korean health officials registered 90,443 new COVID-19 infections. It was the first time the East Asian country topped the 90,000 threshold since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, it was also a 58% increase from Monday’s 57,177 new cases.

The daily cases have increased more than 20-fold from mid-January. Health experts also predict South Korea could reach an average of 200,000 daily cases in March.

On the same day, health officials also recorded 39 additional COVID-19 deaths. The figures bring the country’s toll to 1,522,851 cases and 7,202 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The surging number of Omicron cases has pushed Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum to launch a program that distributes free rapid test kits for students to use twice a week. While testing will not be made mandatory, it will be distributed at kindergartens, elementary schools, neighborhood welfare centers and senior care facilities.

South Korean officials are currently debating lifting measures, such as social distancing and curfews for restaurants, cafes and bars, despite the spread of COVID-19. The prime minister is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday, according to Reuters.

As of Wednesday, South Korea has fully vaccinated 86% of its population.

South Korea is battling its biggest coronavirus wave yet
South Korea is battling its biggest coronavirus wave yet AFP / Jung Yeon-je