South African woman on living in Korea during the pandemic: 'I went from being paranoid to taking each day as it comes'

Karabo Sebabatso Dimo (PHOTO: Supplied by Karabo Sebabatso Dimo)
Karabo Sebabatso Dimo (PHOTO: Supplied by Karabo Sebabatso Dimo)

Last month over 100 South Africans were brought home from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. While each member of that group tested negative for the virus they were still taken to Limpopo to be quarantined.

Read more: Warm welcome? South Africans arrive from Wuhan. Here’s why they’re unlikely to test positive for the new coronavirus

There are still a number of South Africans currently living in Asia, many of whom decided not to return home during the pandemic. DRUM spoke to English teacher Karabo Sebabatso Dimo, who chose to remain in South Korea, about her decision to stay.

“I am currently in South Korea on Jeju Island. I am working as an English teacher. My family and I are on video calls on a weekly basis. My mother has been pretty calm, for my sake I presume, which has helped me a lot. I went from being paranoid for a week to just taking each day as it comes,” the 22-year-old says.

Jeju Island is located just off the coast of South Korea. The country has had over 10 500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 240 deaths. With a population of about 51 million, it has around seven million less citizens than South Africa. So, how are people in South Korea staying safe?

“Life on Jeju Island has been business as usual, to a certain extent. There are a lot of corona prevention and checking methods. For example, there is hand sanitiser everywhere, in busses, stores and some elevators as well. We receive warning updates or reminders on our phones. Official buildings check your temperature before entering, my main school included. Masks are now part of our daily uniform.”

Karabo has been in South Korea for just over two months, having arrived in February.

“There was no lockdown for Jeju Island but I have been cautious as much as I can. In the bus we all leave a seat open and I avoid certain areas when I am outdoors. My daily meals now consist of fruit, veggies, ginger tea and vitamin C sachets. Lastly, I change clothes when I get home and put the clothes I wore outside separately,” she said.

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