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High-tech bus stop latest in South Korea’s virus fight

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The glass-walled booths cost about 100 million won ($84,000) each. AFP

High-tech bus stop latest in South Korea’s virus fight

South Korea has opened a new high-tech front in the battle against the novel 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 Covid-19.

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.

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 sanitiser, and users are advised to wear face masks at all times while keeping at least 1m 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 said.

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.

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.

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

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