Chinese health officials in Weihai, Shandong Province, have quarantined all passengers who arrived on a flight from Korea on Tuesday. The passengers — 19 Koreans and around 140 Chinese — have to be quarantined in an unidentified hotel for 14 days. This is the first time Chinese authorities have quarantined all passengers in a bid to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Weihai officials did the same with passengers on a flight from Japan. Qingdao, the biggest city in Shandong Province, decided to quarantine incoming visitors as well. One news outlet in China, in what must be the most preposterous instance of missing the beam in your own eye for the mote in another’s, reported, “There are many Koreans living in Qingdao and Weihai and Chinese citizens are getting worried.” Yet even now the Korean government has taken no steps to block Chinese people from coming to Korea. More Chinese cities are expected to quarantine visitors from Korea, but the government can hardly criticize China since it is only doing what Korea should have done from the start.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday raised its travel advisory for Korea to the highest level, telling Americans to avoid “all non-essential visits.” The U.S. State Department maintains its travel advisory for Korea at level two, but there is a strong chance of it rising to level three (refrain from travel) or even four (travel ban). It has already raised the travel advisory for China to level four. Korean students and other expats in the U.S. are thinking twice about returning to Korea for fear that they may not be able to come back. Japan has also raised its travel advisory to Korea, joining more than 20 countries that have now either banned or restricted visitors from Korea.
Israel chartered a whole plane to send back around 400 Korean visitors but at least had the decency to pick up the tab. Some neighborhoods had erupted in protest against letting Korean tourists into the country. Even Mauritius, the tiny island country far off the east coast of Africa, immediately quarantined 34 Korean honeymooners when they got off the plane. But where is the foreign minister, who should be looking out for Koreans abroad? Not in her office. Cheong Wa Dae and the government alone are at fault for this absurd state of affairs, but they show no signs of remorse.
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