The Korea Herald

소아쌤

Gov't to combat bedbug infestations with major 4-week campaign

By Yonhap

Published : Nov. 7, 2023 - 20:33

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Guidelines on responding to infectious diseases and bedbugs are seen in an alley in Seoul in this photo taken Sunday. (Yonhap) Guidelines on responding to infectious diseases and bedbugs are seen in an alley in Seoul in this photo taken Sunday. (Yonhap)

The government on Tuesday unveiled a plan to conduct massive inspections and take preventive measures against bedbug infestations over the next four weeks amid escalating panic over the bloodsucking bugs.

The move comes as bedbugs have increasingly appeared in lodging facilities, bathhouses and other vulnerable places nationwide, causing various health damage to the public. The recent surge is alarming as only nine cases of bedbug appearances had been reported to the health authorities in the 10 years since 2014.

Under the plan, the government will carry out inspections at vulnerable facilities -- including bathhouses, dormitories and public transportation -- from Nov. 13 to Dec. 8.

The government plans to immediately disinfect facilities where bedbugs have been found and convene weekly meetings to review and update measures to contain bedbug infestations.

In response to concerns that pesticides approved in the country are insufficient to tackle infestations, the government said it will push to import more effective pesticides and conduct a study on the infection route of bedbugs and their resistance to pest control.

The measures were drawn up in a government-wide meeting attended by ministries, including the interior, health, education and labor ministries, as well as 17 metropolitan and provincial governments.

As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed or suspected cases of bedbug appearances has risen to about 30 nationwide, government data showed.

The bedbug cases had been reported to 17 metropolitan city and provincial governments across the country until Monday, according to the government's joint countermeasures headquarters against bedbugs, which was launched by the interior ministry last Friday to stop the spread of the pests.

In Seoul, as many as 17 cases had been reported to ward or health offices as of Sunday, while the municipal government's call center received reports of an additional five cases in the same period.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency had also received a total of 11 bedbug-related reports from the beginning of October to Monday.

A government official said the number of cases reported to authorities will likely increase going forward.

"There are perceptions that bedbugs are attributable to individuals and some refrain from filing a report on concerns it may be seen as a sign of bad hygiene. The number of reports is expected to increase," the official said.