Asia

Bus stop is newest front in South Korea’s COVID-19 battle

SEOUL: South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps.

Ten advanced facilities have been installed in a northeastern district of Seoul, offering protection from monsoon rains, summer heat and the coronavirus.

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To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will only slide open if their temperature is below 37.5 degrees Celsius.

A separate camera is installed lower down to test children.

A man checks his temperature before entering the bus shelter. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je)

Inside the glass-walled booths – which cost about 100 million won (US$84,000) each – the air-conditioning systems have ultraviolet lamps installed to kill viruses at the same time as cooling the air.

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A dispenser provides hand sanitiser, and users are advised to wear face masks at all times, while keeping at least 1m apart from others.

The glass-walled booths cost about 100 million won (US$84,000) each. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je)

"We have installed all the available anti-coronavirus measures we can think of into this booth," Kim Hwang-yun, a district official in charge of the Smart Shelter project, told AFP.

Free Wi-Fi is also included.

Since they were installed last week each booth has been used by about 300 to 400 people a day, Kim said.

To ensure passengers do not miss their bus, a panel displays estimated arrival times while a screen live-streams the traffic outside.

Inside the shelters, a panel displays estimated arrival times while a screen live-streams the traffic outside. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-je)

South Korea endured one of the worst early coronavirus outbreaks outside China but brought it broadly under control with an extensive "trace, test and treat" programme while never imposing a compulsory lockdown.

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