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(LEAD) Gov't to get tough with individuals who don't cooperate with coronavirus tracing

All News 18:00 June 09, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with results of meeting; TRIMS prime minister's remarks)

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- As part of efforts to prevent the further spread of cluster infections of the new coronavirus in the greater Seoul area, the government said Tuesday it will deal sternly with individuals who don't cooperate with epidemiological surveys or quarantine efforts.

The plan was unveiled during an emergency meeting of government offices related with the COVID-19 response, presided over by Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun.

The justice ministry reported during the meeting that individuals who deliberately reject epidemiological surveys or obstruct the government's quarantine efforts will be criminally investigated while in custody, according to the prime minister's office.

Those who make more than three "habitual" false reports on virus outbreaks will also be detained for investigation, as will those whose false reports lead to unnecessary dispatch of a large group of virus response workers.

The meeting came as the country is grappling with a series of cluster infections in Seoul and its adjacent cities.

On Tuesday, South Korea reported 38 new infections, including 35 locally transmitted cases. Of the local infections, all but two were from the greater capital area, traced to an e-commerce warehouse, a door-to-door business retailer and religious gatherings.

Under the strengthened measures, the National Police Agency will also step in to order its main regional investigation divisions to enforce anti-infection rules on disobedient nightlife businesses or illegal business operators, the office also said.

According to the police agency, a total of 707 people have been probed for violating contagious disease control and quarantine rules in connection with COVID-19. 282 of them have been formally indicted while six were put in custody for "maliciously and habitually" neglecting self-quarantine orders.

During the meeting, the prime minister also ordered the ministers to "proactively" consider filing indemnity suits against those who violate COVID-19 quarantine measures and cause spread of COVID-19.

"If transmissions are confirmed in places where quarantine rules were violated or (someone) is found to have caused spread of the virus, (the government) should proactively review exercising the right to indemnity (to have) the treatment or quarantine costs (reimbursed)," Chung said at the opening of the meeting attended by finance, health, justice and labor ministers, as well as the head of the national center for disease control.

The prime minister warned that quarantine violations are "serious issues that could jeopardize the government's prevention efforts and pose threats to the safety of the social community."

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun presides over an emergency meeting of government ministers on efforts to contain new coronavirus outbreaks in the greater capital area on June 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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