Alarmed by the spread, the KDCA said Monday that the government has made a decision to extend its ban on all flights from London's Heathrow Airport to Incheon International Airport by another week, until January 7, and mandate all people arriving in Korea from Britain or South Africa to submit negative results on a PCR Covid-19 test, including those who had a layover in either country. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said it was the first time the variant was found in Korea, though no transmissions appear to have occurred domestically since the family was under quarantine.
They arrived a day before South Korea halted air travel from Britain until December 31 to guard against the new version of the virus.
Four other South Koreans, who arrived here on November 8 and December 13 from Britain, also tested positive for the virus and have been under investigation to ascertain if they were infected with the new variant.
A board shows the arrival time of a flight from London at Incheon airport, west of Seoul, on December 24, 2020, as South Korea has suspended flights arriving from Britain until the end of this year over concerns about a new strain of the novel coronavirus.
South Korea has become the latest country to confirm the presence of the new coronavirus variant. In the span of the past 10 days, the nation's daily virus cases hovered around 1,000.
Eleven more patients died of coronavirus, pushing the accumulated death toll to 819.
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Of the new cases, 359 were Seoul residents and 237 were people residing in Gyeonggi province. The strongest-ever measures have been applied nationwide since last Thursday as well. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported 60 more cases. The government on Sunday said it will spend another week before determining whether to enforce its toughest physical distancing rules in the greater Seoul area that officials worry would further hurt the economy.
Chung pointed out that the virus attacked mainly people in their 40s and 50s who work outside at first and spread to their family members.
South Korea has confirmed nearly 57,000 cases of the coronavirus and 808 deaths since the pandemic began.
Earlier this month, United Kingdom health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of the coronavirus that spreads faster than other Sars-Cov-2 virus strains.
KCDA confirmed 808 new Covid-19 patients, including 787 local infections.
An additional 228 patients fully recovered and returned to their everyday lives, increasing the total to 39,268. The remaining 21 patients were infected overseas - three each from India, Britain and the United States, two each from Russia, Poland and Pakistan, and one each from Myanmar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Mexico and Ghana. In other parts of the country, cases were found in houses of worship, restaurants, welfare facilities and social gatherings.