Seoul declares zero tolerance for self-isolation violators

South Korea, on Thursday, declared a no-tolerance stance toward those who do not follow self-isolation rules over the new coronavirus.

The government warned that violators will face legal punishment or deportation.

Seoul issued the strong warning as some arrivals from Europe and the U.S. have not abide by the two-week self-isolation guidelines, sparking concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters announced that any foreigner, leaving his or her self-isolation venue without permission, will be expelled from the country.

Local violators will not receive a leave subsidy totalling 1.23 million won ($1,000) in the case of a four-member household.

“Police will maintain their highest alert status and be ready to make an emergency response to any breach of the rules,’’ the agency said.

It noted that violators could be fined up to 10 million won or imprisoned for up to a year under the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.

The government has also decided to deny entry to inbound travellers at the airport, who are ordered to self-isolate but fail to install the self-quarantine safety protection app intended to keep track of their locations in the country.

The installation rate of the self-quarantine app among those asked to self-isolate here for 14 days reached 60.9 per cent as of 6.00 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Also, 11 people were reported to have left self-isolation without authorisation from March 13 to March 24,’’ the agency said.

The government will also encourage ordinary citizens to report any self-isolation violations to the local authorities.

South Korea has required all arrivals from Europe and the U.S. to undergo stricter quarantine procedures and to remain in 14-day self-isolation due to spikes in imported cases.

The total number of infections from abroad jumped by 34 to 101 on Tuesday, the biggest single-day rise so far.

The country has reported a total caseload of 9,137 since the first case on Jan. 20.

“The government should apply the no-tolerance principle to those who violate self-isolation rules without proper reasons,’’ Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a pan-governmental meeting on coronavirus responses.

Chung, however, called the self-isolation rules “mandatory’’ legal action.

“There is a need to file complaints about those who do not abide by the rules without legitimate reasons and to order deportation in the case of foreigners,’’ he stressed.

A South Korean student, who recently returned from the U.S., stirred up the public after it was disclosed that the person travelled to Jeju Island from March 20 to March 24 before testing positive for the coronavirus in Seoul on Wednesday.

Government officials suspect that some people, ordered to self-isolate, are secretly going outside to meet people or shop.

The prime minister also called on local governments to designate public servants who will closely monitor those in self-isolation with the location-tracking system.

“The government should thoroughly notify international arrivals of the self-quarantine rules and advise them not to use public transportation to head home or to facilities used for self-isolation,’’ he noted. (Yonhap/NAN)

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