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Cram school teacher gets 6-month prison term for lying after COVID-19 infection

All News 15:46 October 08, 2020

INCHEON, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- A cram school teacher was sentenced to six months in prison Thursday for lying about his job and whereabouts after testing positive for COVID-19 and subsequently causing some 80 infections.

In the ruling, the Incheon District Court said the defendant "lied more than 20 times to health officials tasked with contact tracing," there by impeding their efforts to timely isolate people who might have been infected with or exposed to the virus.

"His act inflicted huge economic and social damage and caused fear among community members," it said, adding that the sentencing factored in how he denied some of his wrongdoings while being investigated by police.

This file photo taken May 14, 2020, shows a masked citizen passing by a private academy in Incheon, where a coronavirus-infected instructor taught students. (Yonhap)

The 24-year-old man tested positive on May 9 after visiting a club and an eatery that sells alcohol in the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon.

During an epidemiological survey, he lied to health authorities and told them he was unemployed. He also did not disclose the fact that he had taught at a private academy in Michuhol Ward in Incheon, about 50 kilometers west of Seoul, only day earlier.

Local health authorities, who were dubious of his report, asked the police to secure his mobile phone records, which delayed the tracing process that could have prevented additional infections.

More than 40 elementary, middle and high school students were infected in Incheon, with chain transmissions estimated to have infected some 80 patients across the country.

During the final hearing last month, prosecutors demanded a two-year prison term, the maximum possible penalty that relevant laws allow.

Appearing in court, the defendant apologized and said, "I had no idea that something so serious could happen as a result of what I said."

In the file photo taken May 7, 2020, people pass by a dance club in the popular international district of Itaewon in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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