Cyprus Mail

After Europe, bedbugs problem spreads to South Korea

file photo: south korea ramps up pest control after reports of bedbugs
A bed bug on a glove of a biocide technician from the company Hygiene Premium who treats an apartment against bed bugs in L'Hay-les-Roses, near Paris, France, September 29, 2023. REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq/File Photo

South Korea is ramping up pest control measures and inspections to prevent a spread of bedbugs after reports of suspected infestations at some saunas and residential facilities, officials said on Wednesday.

The small, flat oval insects have caused a panic in France, where reports of outbreaks on trains and in cinemas have raised worries about the impact on tourism and the Paris Olympics, which start in less than a year. Britain too has seen a jump in enquiries about the pests.

In South Korea, about 30 cases of suspected infestations have been reported nationwide, including at a traditional Korean spa called “jjimjilbang” in Incheon, west of Seoul, and a college dorm in the southeastern city of Daegu, officials said.

The prime minister’s office on Tuesday launched a four-week campaign with inspections of public facilities and pest control measures.

“Public anxiety is inevitable as reports continue to come in,” Park Ku-yeon, first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, who heads the team in change of the campaign, told a meeting.

Park singled out small dorm rooms known as “gosiwon” and single-room households as most vulnerable, calling for support from district authorities.

The wingless insects hide in mattresses and bedding and feed on blood, typically biting at night.

South Korea’s hotel and tour industry is stepping up vigilance with distribution of repellent and training for staff.

Lotte Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality arm of Lotte Corp 004990.KS, said it had not found any infestations but issued guidelines to all branches and it plans to disinfect bedding, mattresses, carpets and sofas.

“We’re trying to take strong precautionary steps,” a Lotte Hotel official told Reuters.

Authorities in the capital, Seoul, said metro operators would disinfect trains more frequently and gradually replace fabric seats with plastic ones.

Drivers have to disinfect their taxis twice a day and control measures are also being implemented on buses.

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