SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Korea Bizwire) — The daily lives of South Koreans are changing as fears are growing over the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, a new type of coronavirus infection.
In particular, citizens expressed a more sensitive response within public transportation, including crowded subway trains.
When people cough on the subway, passengers look at the sound or avoid nearby seats. Citizens are even sensitive to the sound of a cough made to clear one’s throat.
Kwon Na-eun, a 21-year-old college student, said, “I have a common cold, and people around me look at me when I cough. I try to wash my hands as frequently as possible and avoid crowded areas.”
“I heard that the Wuhan coronavirus is highly infectious. When I hear a cough, I get very conscious and worry about it,” one company employee said.
Most people on their way to work these days are wearing face masks. Some citizens wore double layers of masks or wore masks and covered their full faces except for their eyes with their mufflers.
One citizen, who could not bring a face mask, covered his nose and mouth with a handkerchief while waiting for the subway. Meanwhile many citizens were seen buying masks at convenience stores before boarding the subway.
According to convenience store chain GS25, face mask sales during the Lunar New Year holiday period increased 413 percent from the same period a year earlier and 350 percent from the previous week, January 17 to 20.
Sales of hand sanitizers also rose 429 percent and 343 percent, respectively.
“It seems that face mask sales have increased three to five times more than usual,” a convenience store owner at a subway station said. “People buy the most during rush hour and foreigners buy 10 at a time.”
The number of public transportation users seems to be decreasing as some say it is easier for the virus to spread in crowded places.
“The number of passengers using the subway seems to be lower than usual,” said Park Sung-won, 23, who serves as a social service agent at a subway station.
“It seems to be because if you use public transportation during rush hour, you will come into contact with others.”
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)