Bus stop newest front in South Korea's coronavirus battle

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 12 2020 04:47 PM

Commuters wait for buses at a “smart shelter” high-tech bus stop in Seongdong-gu District, Seoul, Aug. 3, 2020. Seongdong-gu District Office/Korea.net

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 novel coronavirus.

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 (99.5 Fahrenheit).

A separate camera is installed lower down to test children.

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

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

"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 livestreams the traffic outside.

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" program while never imposing a compulsory lockdown.

Kim Ju-li, a 49-year-old housewife using the new bus stop for the first time, told AFP: "I feel really safe in here because I know others around me had their temperatures checked as well as me."