Asian jurisdictions trying to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Israel, are now imposing stiff penalties on travelers who refuse to comply with health regulations.
Violations include misleading health investigators, concealing key details about their activities and flouting quarantine orders.
Asian governments are using a grab bag of tools to identify those who may have been exposed to the virus and impose limits on their movements. These have included in-depth interviews of sickened people, quarantines and stay-home directives for those returning from high-risk countries, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In a recent case, Beijing investigating a woman from Wuhan who slipped through that city’s lockdown and then the capital’s entry checkpoints despite having a fever. The woman has since been diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus, according to an official briefing Thursday.
In Hong Kong, two residents were charged last week for violating quarantine rules. Under the rules, those who visited China in the two weeks before their entry into Hong Kong must self-quarantine for two weeks. That means they can’t step outside their homes or hotel rooms and are barred from leaving the city. The two men were stopped at border checkpoints trying to leave Hong Kong this month, according to a government spokeswoman.
If they are convicted, they face a maximum fine of $3,200 and up to six months in prison.
Officials in the city-state are relying on phone calls and spot checks to enforce quarantines. They are also using location-tracking wristbands that alert authorities when the person leaves their home, or damages or tampers with the device.
Singapore this week charged a Chinese couple under the Infectious Diseases Act for giving false information about their movements. The city-state has also stripped people of their permanent-resident status and revoked foreigners’ work passes over virus-related infractions.
In Taiwan, authorities in the capital, Taipei, said Tuesday that the city has fined 67 people who broke quarantine measures with fines ranging from $330 to $2,300. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen signed a law this week that increases the penalty for breaching quarantine restrictions to a maximum of $30,000.
Israelis caught violating a mandatory home quarantine for travelers who have recently visited East Asia could face a prison sentence of up to seven years, the Health Ministry warned Thursday.
Those who knowingly violate the quarantine could be sentenced to seven years in prison, while those who do so out of negligence could get a three-year sentence, the ministry said in a statement. The Times of Israel reported.
Travelers returning from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Thailand are being required to self-quarantine for 14 days over concerns they may carry the new coronavirus.
“The Health Ministry sees members of the public that have been requested to isolate themselves as full partners in preventing the spread of the disease in Israel,” the statement said. “We’re sure they will show responsibility toward their family members, friends, and toward sick and frail people in society, and reduce the risk of infections.”