Embassies in Seoul have criticised the South Korean government for its “discriminatory” and “frustrating” vaccine policy and called on officials to grant “urgent recognition” for foreign nationals inoculated overseas.
As the dispute over South Korea’s Covid-19 restrictions has intensified, foreign delegations to the country, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India as well as the EU mission have demanded that their citizens enjoy the “same access rights to public facilities as those Korean nationals fully vaccinated overseas”.
South Korea insists on proof of vaccination for people to enter various public spaces. Vaccinations administered in the country are recognised, as are those given overseas to South Korean nationals. But jabs given to foreign residents overseas are only recognised if the recipient has been granted a quarantine exemption to enter the country.
On Friday, Seoul halted quarantine exemptions for international arrivals to help prevent the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. It also widened its mandate to require proof of vaccination at restaurants and cafés.
The US embassy on Tuesday said the “discriminatory policy . . . brings undue hardship to US citizens vaccinated outside Korea”, adding that it had raised the matter with the South Korean government “at the highest levels”.
Simon Smith, UK ambassador to South Korea, labelled the policy “disappointing and frustrating” and said that he would also seek clarification from Seoul.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency defended the vaccine measures, saying they were necessary to curb Omicron.
On Tuesday, a KDCPA spokesperson said that the government was preparing a separate certificate for double-vaccinated foreigners to use at public facilities. The spokesperson said the measure would be announced on Thursday.
A recent jump in Covid infections has stoked concerns about the Korean economy, which has already been hit by supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks during the pandemic.
Exports failed to compensate for weak domestic spending in the third quarter, with gross domestic product rising just 0.3 per cent, down from 0.8 per cent the previous quarter.
South Korea has vaccinated 80 per cent of its 52m population, and in September began a booster campaign. Kim Boo-kyum, the prime minister, said the government aimed to give 13m people a booster shot by the end of the year.
The country has reported a total of 482,310 infections and just 3,957 deaths. But daily cases have surged to about 5,000 after the government launched a “live with Covid” campaign last month.
The rise in infections forced authorities to reimpose some social restrictions on Monday, such as limiting social gatherings to six people in the metropolitan area surrounding the capital.
Embassies blast South Korea over ‘discriminatory’ foreign vaccines policy appeared first on maserietv.com.