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First it was Paris. Now it’s Seoul.
South Korea is plagued by a bed bug epidemic and the government is rushing to combat the blood-sucking bugs.
According to the South Korean government, the bugs were first found in a sauna in Incheon as well as in student dormitories and gosiwons.
Gosiwons are one-room accommodations that are smaller than a typical studio apartment. In September, an initial outbreak was reported at a dormitory at Keimyung University in Daegu city.
Since Tuesday, the number of suspected bed bug cases has risen to 30. more than half of them in the capital Seoul.
This marks a setback from South Korea’s nearly flawless record since the 1970s, when bed bugs were thought to be eradicated across the country thanks to the availability of insecticides, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Only nine cases of bed bugs have been reported in the last decade.
The parasitic insects are the size of an apple seed and live in dark spaces such as cracks in beds and sofas. Although they do not transmit disease, their bites can cause intense itching and lead to secondary skin infections or scarring. The beetles cannot jump or fly, but spread on clothing and other items such as bags and suitcases.
If you are exposed to bed bugs while traveling abroad, you need to thoroughly disinfect your travel items.
South Korea’s battle against bed bugs comes after France also struggled with widespread pests in its own capital and cities during the Rugby World Cup.
“If you are exposed to bed bugs while traveling abroad, you must thoroughly disinfect your travel items,” KDCA Director Ji Young-Mi warned in a recent press release. He added that travelers should check for signs of bed bugs in shared accommodation.
Fight against bed bugs
To combat the infestation, the South Korean government is launching a A four-week campaign to conduct inspections and implement pest control measures in “at risk” public facilities such as bathhouses, dormitories and childcare facilities, to name a few. Facilities where bed bugs are suspected are disinfected immediately.
South Korea’s People Power Party said it would consider whether to disclose the facilities where bed bugs are present because of “concerns about secondary harm” at the sites due to such disclosure.
Fighting bed bugs will not be easy as the number of pests is expected to increase.
This photo taken on October 3, 2023 shows a bed bug eradication product at Hygiene Premium, a pest control store in Paris.
Miguel Medina | Afp | Getty Images
“Bed bugs are thought to be caused by individuals and some people choose not to file a report because they fear it could be seen as a sign of poor hygiene. The number of reports is expected to increase,” an official was quoted as saying by local media.
And it doesn’t help that the pests are particularly robust. A KDCA official reportedly said he was considering using a new pesticide as the bed bugs had developed resistance to existing chemicals.
The South Korean travel industry is also doing its part in the fight against bed bugs. The Korea Airports Corporation said it plans to double the frequency of checks in vulnerable areas – such as the terminal lounges, children’s playgrounds and the airport baggage check area – from once a week to twice a week at all airports in the country.
Hotels are also checked for compliance with hygiene standards, which also includes mandatory disinfection.
Some South Koreans also don’t go to the cinema for safety reasons.
“I planned to see it [a] Wonder [movie] “Today I canceled because I was afraid there would be bed bugs in the theater,” said one user At Social media platform Xformerly known as Twitter.
Another 34-year-old local named Lee Eun-seon, who watches movies at the cinema at least twice a month, reportedly said he doesn’t plan to return until the bed bugs are gone. He was quoted as saying that he also hesitated to sit on the cloth seats while riding the subway, choosing instead to stand.
Seoul Metro has announced it will disinfect subway trains 30 times a year, up from the current nine times.
Source : www.cnbc.com