South Korea start mass prison virus tests

·1-min read

South Korea has rolled out mass testing for 52 prisons after an outbreak among inmates, and may extend flight suspensions from Britain in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus cases, the health minister says.

More than half of the 2,292 inmates and personnel in a prison in southeastern Seoul tested positive after an infection was reported within the facility last month, Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, told a briefing.

The justice ministry is separating the confirmed inmates by transferring them to a designated hospital, Yoon said.

Authorities will complete mass testing on some 70,000 prison inmates and staff nationwide, as the number of confirmed cases linked to prisons throughout the country surged to 1,191.

Health officials will also decide whether to extend flight suspensions from Britain after at least 12 cases of a new strain of the coronavirus had been found, Yoon said.

The country had already extended a ban on direct flights from Britain until January 7, and required any passengers arriving from that country or South Africa to undergo testing before departure.

The country reported 840 new cases as of midnight on Tuesday, a slight rise from 715 a day before, bringing the national tally to 65,818 infections with 1,027 deaths.