I will be in South Korea one week in November. Do I need to worry about any sort of life threatening infections (e.g., bird flu), while visiting there? Also do I need to bring surgical mask, while visiting South Korea for that matter?

  • 6
    If you are performing surgery then you may need one. Otherwise, it won't help you much. – Calchas Oct 9 '15 at 10:23
  • Why is November important? What difference do you think the month makes? – JoErNanO Oct 9 '15 at 10:27
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    @JoErNanO, the OP is specifying the month because invariably some smart-ass will comment that the information is vital. It also may be relevant to the answer, monsoon season or some cultural reason or whatever. We love precision so the OP is correct to give lots of info. :) – Gayot Fow Oct 9 '15 at 10:45

I'm not sure what exactly you are worried about, so let me point out a few points:

  • There was an outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in South Korea earlier this year. According to the last update of WHO on the situation from July, there have been no new infections and there shouldn't be any danger of getting infected any more.
  • You are travelling during the winter months, which in the northern hemisphere is the influenza season (aka 'the flu'), which is common in most parts of the world.
  • Note that contrary to popular belief the primary use of surgical masks is not to protect the wearer from getting sick, but to protect others from being infected by the wearer. While wearing a mask might offer you some protection (such as preventing you from touching your mouth and nose), it isn't very effective, as droplet infection can also occur through the eyes. It also doesn't protect you from air pollution, as they don't filter out fine particles.

In summary, I don't think you need to be overly worried about travelling to South Korea. The chances of you getting a 'life-threatening infection' are not any higher than in any other developed country.

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    I totally agree, I'm in South Korea right now and less than 1% of people on the street wear masks. These people are sick and are trying to not infect others. You only need a mask if you are sick yourself. And in case you get sick in South Korea you can buy masks very easily in the country. – Peter Hahndorf Oct 9 '15 at 9:37
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    As a person from Saudi Arabia, where MERS started, masks are not required to be worn, washing hands and avoiding touching door handles and the like with bare hands is the best thing you can do to prevent the infection. – Nean Der Thal Oct 9 '15 at 12:38

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