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Virus patient may face fine for breaking quarantine

Hospitalized or quarantined persons can apply for state grants from Monday

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)
Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)

A patient with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, may face penalties for not following quarantine rules, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

According to the KCDC, a 43-year-old Korean man had lunch with his family at his home in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Feb. 1 while still under quarantine.

He told authorities he started having symptoms that morning, which prompted him to visit a state health clinic later the same day. He was confirmed to have contracted the virus the next day, on Feb. 2. His sister-in-law, who was among family members who dined with him, was diagnosed on Feb. 5.

This is the first known transmission of the disease due to negligence on the part of a person put in quarantine.

Authorities imposed a 14-day quarantine on the man after he was identified as a close contact of the fourth patient, a 55-year-old man, who was found to have been infected on Jan. 27. The two men returned from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, aboard the same plane on Jan. 20.

The KCDC said it was speaking with district officials about fining the man 3 million won ($2,535) for failing to observe the mandatory quarantine order. If found to have violated the laws on disease control, the patient may also be refused government compensation for individuals affected by the virus.

The KCDC’s at-home quarantine recommendations for people who live with family members or others include keeping at least 1-meter distance, wearing face masks and using separate utensils.

But the existing law may be subject to review, the KCDC admitted, as it fails to incorporate those living in communal households.

The National Pension Service under the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced Friday that it would begin taking applications on Monday for state grants for those hospitalized or isolated due to the illness at 109 pension service centers across the country.

As per the Emergency Aid and Support Act, individuals quarantined for 14 days will receive different amounts depending on the number of household members. For instance, 459,000 won will be given for a single-person household and 1.23 million won for a 4-person household.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)
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