This photo, taken Sunday, shows an arrival hall at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. Health authorities began imposing an entry ban on foreign arrivals from eight African countries, including South Africa, the same day to block the inflow of the new COVID-19 variant omicron. (Yonhap)
South Korea will closely monitor global and local financial markets for any impact from the emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus and take action in a preemptive and active manner, if necessary, to reduce market volatility, a senior finance ministry official said Monday.
First Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon made the remark at a meeting to discuss macroeconomic issues amid concerns that financial market volatility could intensify due to the spread of the potentially more transmissible omicron variant.
"It is hard to exclude the possibility that omicron could serve as a factor of uncertainty that could expand financial market volatility at home and abroad in the short term due to lack of information," Lee said.
"We will monitor local and foreign financial markets 24 hours a day," Lee added. "If necessary, we will respond in a preemptive and active manner in cooperation with relevant agencies."
Lee still urged people to stay calm, emphasizing that the local financial markets, in particular, have gained resilience in the process of their recovery from the impact of the previous waves of the pandemic.
"Contact-free working and more online spending have also increased the ability to better cushion any impact from the coronavirus," he said.
On Sunday, South Korea imposed an entry ban on all foreign arrivals from eight African countries in a bid to block the inflow of the omicron variant.
South Korea has seen its daily coronavirus cases remain high amid its efforts to bring the pandemic-hit life and economy back to normalcy by easing social distancing rules in phases under its "living with COVID-19 scheme" introduced early this month.
The government planned to move to the second stage in mid-December, but health authorities have warned the country may not be able to do so if the current trend continues.
Earlier in the day, the local stock and currency markets got off to a weak start amid worries over the omicron variant. (Yonhap)