A man checks his temperature in front of a thermal imaging camera before being allowed to enter one of the newly installed bus stops – JUNG YEON-JE /AFP

Authorities in the South Korean capital Seoul have installed a series of new smart bus stops that check commuters for coronavirus and will deny them entry if they have a temperature.

To enter the high-tech, fortified shelter, passengers must stand in front of an automated, thermal-imaging camera. If their temperature exceeds 37.5 C, they are barred from entering and boarding a bus.

The glass-walled booths, known as ‘smart shelters’, also have UV disinfectant lamps built into the air-conditioning units, simultaneously killing the virus and cooling the air.

Despite the fact the novel coronavirus spreads more easily indoors than outdoors, local officials in the Seongdong district of the capital have chosen to install the covered shelters to provide citizens respite from Seoul’s brutal summer weather. Monsoon rains provide little relief from the crushing heat and humidity.

Jeong Mi-rang, an official in Seongdong, told CNN the purpose of the shelters is to provide “an environment where people can escape scorching weather and pouring rain while preventing virus infections.”

The new booths are designed to provide a safe haven both from coronavirus and the brutal summer weather – JUNG YEON-JE /AFP

To make them more comfortable for the public, the bus stops also contain free WiFi, charging points and play therapeutic music. A dispenser gives out free hand sanitiser and a speaker politely encourages everyone to wear face masks at all times.

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

A total of ten shelters have been constructed so far, with plans for more to be built in the near future. Each unit costs 100m won (£65,000) and has been used by about 300 people per day since they were installed last week. 

South Korea has so far been seen as a global success story when it comes to containing the pandemic. There have only been 14,770 cases and 305 deaths, according to John Hopkins University, in a population of over 50 million people.

An extensive track-and-trace programme coupled with heightened public awareness on hygiene has allowed South Korea to keep a lid on the outbreak, despite its proximity to China, currently thought to be the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic.



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