In a nutshell: South Korea is using high-tech bus shelters to fight the spread of Covid-19. The ten "smart shelters" feature external thermal cameras for checking temperatures and ultraviolet disinfecting lamps on the inside.
The solar-powered shelters have been installed in the capital city of Seoul along major bus routes in the Seongdong district. Passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the sliding door will only open if a temperature under 99.5F is detected. There's another camera installed lower down for testing children.
There are ultraviolet lamps inside the glass-paneled structures, along with air-conditioning, a dispenser filled with hand sanitizer, and free Wi-Fi. They also contain a large display showing the estimated arrival times of buses and a livestream of the nearby traffic.
Even with these precautions, passengers are advised to wear masks at all times and remain at least one meter apart. Around 300 to 400 people use each booth every day.
In addition to mitigating the spread of Covid-19, the shelters are designed to protect against Seoul's scorching summer heat and monsoon rains. Each unit costs around 100 million won ($84,000), and there are plans to install more.
"It is ideal for people to avoid a closed, small space in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic," said Seongdong district official Jeong Mi-rang. "However, it's inevitable that we'll have to live with it for a while, so we need to find a way to live a better life coping with the current situation."
South Korea was one of the first nations to be hit hard after Covid-19 spread outside of China, but its "trace, test and treat" program and fast introduction of drive-through testing meant it never had to introduce a compulsory lockdown. The county, which has a population of around 51 million, has seen just 14,873 cases and 305 deaths. The US with its population of 328 million, meanwhile, has 5.2 million cases and 167,242 deaths.