Day 6: More Changes Coming
When I first arrived at my quarantine facility five days ago, one of the first things that was apparent was how ad hoc and disorganized the process for entering the facility seemed to be. I don’t mean that the health department workers that were working at the facility when I arrived did not know what they were doing. They certainly knew what they were doing and did their best to administer the quarantine entry process as best they could. What I mean is that everything seemed like it had been set up very quickly and that the health care workers were not yet comfortable with doing their particular jobs in this particular setting. After having stayed here for several days now, it has become clear why I got such a sense of this when I had arrived.
Since arriving, one of the things that has become a regular and expected part of my day are the automated messages that are played over the speaker in my room. For the first few days of my quarantine, there were several different messages that were each played a few times throughout the day. One of them is the message three times per day announcing that food will begin to be delivered. Another is the message to remind everyone that they should report their health condition using the mobile application that everyone was required to install on their phone when they arrived at Incheon Airport. Other messages remind everyone of the various rules that the health department has established for people in quarantine, such as no smoking and not leaving your room for any reason.
Initially, all of these messages were played in only two languages, English and Korean. But beginning today, there were several additional languages that were added to these regular message bursts, including Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, and a couple other languages that I could not determine. This leads me to believe that whereas most or all of the people that were being administered to this particular quarantine facility when I first arrived were able to speak either English or Korean, the variety of people being administered here now has substantially widened. Also, it seems that the importance of this facility has risen substantially since I first arrived, as it is becoming a facility where a wider range of people from different countries are being quarantined as they arrive in the country.
There are other things that have changed since I arrived here as well. When I first went through the admission process upon arrival there were only a couple of pieces of paper that I received regarding my stay in quarantine. None of these papers really touched on the rules for the facility and instead were just receipts for the forms that I had signed acknowledging my need to enter this facility. Two days ago, health department workers came around to every room and posted a sign on the inside of every entry door highlighting the main rules for everyone in quarantine. And yesterday, with one of our regular meal deliveries, we received more paperwork explaining how and when we would be leaving the quarantine facility as well as how to receive packages while staying in quarantine. These are the kinds of things that I would have expected to receive when I first entered quarantine.
All of these changes coming in such a short period of time since I arrived suggest to me that this quarantine facility had not been set up too long before I arrived. If it had been set up longer ago, all of these things would already have been addressed and there would have been a much more comprehensive entry packet when we arrived and went through the admission process. Honestly, this does not surprise me, because all of my research into the quarantine process here in South Korea had suggested that I would be staying in a countryside resort somewhere outside Seoul. The fact that I am staying in a Grand Hyatt hotel right next to the airport came as quite a shock when we arrived. Since doing my research a week or two before entering quarantine, either the South Korean government realized that it needed more quarantine capacity for people arriving in the country or it realized that it needed to improve the facilities that it was keeping people quarantined at. Regardless of what the reason is, I am very thankful to be staying in the airport Grand Hyatt hotel for such a low price and such a long time during my quarantine.