SEOUL,  South Korea’s health authorities said Tuesday that the ban on flights from Britain will be extended by one week again and arrivals from Brazil will have to prove that they are virus-free as the country stepped up measures against new coronavirus variants that are known to be more transmissible.

A total of 18 COVID-19 variant cases have been reported in the country, including 15 from Britain, two from South Africa and one from Brazil, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Reports say the British and South African variants may spread more readily between people than the previous one, with the variants possibly up to 1.5 times more transmissible than the old one. Further study needs to be conducted on the Brazilian variant.

Under the latest package of measures, the country extended the ban on passenger flights departing from Britain, which has been in place since Dec. 23, to block the new virus variant, for another week until Jan. 28, the KDCA said.

All entrants from Brazil, including South Korean nationals, must present a certificate that shows negative PCR tests, starting next Monday, the KDCA said.

They must also take another COVID-19 test upon arrival at an isolated facility and must remain there until they are confirmed to be virus free, health authorities said.

Staring Monday, all foreign entrants must present papers showing negative PCR tests taken within the last 24 hours of their arrival here. Previously, the PCR tests had to be taken within 72 hours of arrival.

The country added 386 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with the number staying under 400 for the second straight day. The total caseload rose to 73,115, according to the KDCA.

Source: Yonhap News Agency