In recent months, many establishments in Korea such as schools, dormitories and offices require regular PCR tests from its students, residents and employees in order to prevent spread of Covid-19. I was tested a few days ago as required by my student dormitory. I received my PCR test at Nonsan Public Health Centre where tests are free for all, including foreigners. If you are scheduled to receive a PCR test in Korea, read on to learn what it is like. It takes less than 5 minutes and is very simple to complete!
What is the Covid-19 PCR Test?
A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test involves a throat and nose swab sample which is analysed for the presence of genetic material from a virus, which can be detected before a person develops symptoms. It is different from lateral flow (or home) Covid-19 tests that provide instant results, as analysis is carried out in a laboratory. However, they are far more accurate than lateral flow tests.
Where can I get a PCR test in Korea?
There are several Covid-19 test stations across Korea. They are located in hospitals, medical centres, public health centres as well as temporary stations in accessible areas like shopping streets, plazas and parks.
To find a station close to you, check out the full list of Covid-19 test stations at the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare website.
- Go to http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/en/
- Hover over “About Covid-19” and click “Covid-19 Response” in the dropdown tab
- Scroll down to the “Covid-19 Screening Stations” section and click the hyperlink
- You will be taken to > this page < and will need to use your browser’s translate option in order to translate the page to English.
- Type your city or county into the search bar to find local stations
If you have no symptoms, you can visit the temporary screening stations which are usually the most convenient. If you do have symptoms, you must call 1339 as soon as possible.
In an emergency always call 119
Covid-19 PCR Test @ Nonsan Public Health Center
So, what was my experience of getting a Covid-19 PCR Test in Korea? Well, I chose the Nonsan Public Health Center screening clinic as I could go conveniently. I attended shortly after the lunch rush, when there were only a few people waiting to be tested
- They provided me with a form to fill out with my name, date of birth, gender, address, school, mobile number, presence/absence of symptoms and reason for getting the PCR test. I then submitted the form to the staff at the counter inside the clinic.
- I was handed a swab test kit and directed to the testing booths. Inside the testing booth was the nurse, whom I gave the kit to. She inserted the swab into my mouth and rubbed it on the back of my throat for a few seconds. She then inserted the swab up my nose and turned it for a few seconds. It was quite uncomfortable but it only lasts a few seconds.
- After that, I was allowed to leave. The next day at 9am, I received a text message confirming that my PCR test result was negative. And that’s it!
This was the second time I’ve had a Covid-19 PCR test in Korea. The first one was at a private hospital that I had to pay for. This time, the test was free and located at an easily accessible public health center close to my dormitories. However, the test process was identical both times. The nasal swab felt very uncomfortable but was quick. I was very grateful that the test was free and I highly recommend going at off-peak times if you can.
If you need a medical certificate of PCR result, contact the screening center first to see whether they provide one. In my case, I was only sent a text to confirm my result, which was acceptable for my dormitory requirements. However, your institution may require a certificate.