It has been confirmed that three people who returned to South Korea from the UK last week have tested positive for the new strain of COVID-19.
This is the first time for South Korea to confirm cases of the new variant.
Health authorities say the three are family members who flew in from London on December 22nd.
On top of that, the authorities are closely monitoring the family of a man in his 80s, who came back from the UK on December 13th and posthumously tested positive for COVID-19.
Three of his family members also tested positive, which prompted the South Korean government to look into whether they contracted the new variant.
The final results are expected to come out during the first week of January.
To prevent the further spread of the variant, health authorities have toughened entry measures from the UK, including extending the suspension of all flights from Britain for one more week until January 7th.
"Those coming in from the UK and Republic of South Africa -- including layovers -- will also be obligated to submit a PCR negative confirmation. Korean nationals are also included on the list so that all people entering the country will have to submit it."
Except for diplomatic, government affairs and humanitarian reasons, new visas will be not issued for those coming from the UK and South Africa.
Adding to that, the diplomatic offices in both countries won't be issuing isolation exemption certificates until January 17th.
As more countries have confirmed cases of the new variant of the virus, health authorities have decided to conduct further tests on all arrivals before they are discharged from quarantine, and monitor whether they have the variant -- if they test positive.
An expert says the variant could have a major impact on the number of new cases.
"Based on the data so far, it is believed the variant is 70 percent more infectious, and based on mathematical modeling it is 56-percent more infectious. Even if it isn't more fatal, if it is more transmittable, so more new cases might come out."
He added that health authorities should also pay attention to other countries where the variant is being reported.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.