Friday, June 26, 2015

Korea Puts More Teeth In Their Quarantine Laws

koream Map



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In a story that dovetails into my last post about the Korean businessman who traveled to China against his doctor’s advice after being exposed to MERS, South Korea has passed a new law that will eventually add potential prison penalties for anyone evading quarantine or lying about their exposure history.

First an excerpt from today’s NYTs.


After MERS, South Korea Authorizes Prison for Quarantine Scofflaws



SEOUL, South Korea


The new law, which was passed Thursday and takes effect in six months, gives more authority to public health investigators, empowering them to close down the site of a potential outbreak of infectious disease and to place people there under quarantine. People who defy the orders can be sentenced to up to two years in prison or fined up to 20 million won, or about $18,000. The same penalties can be imposed for lying about one’s potential exposure to infectious disease.


This new law also requires health authorities to make public certain information about disease outbreaks, including names and locations of affected hospitals and known exposures to the public. 


Both items of information that Korea’s health authorities were roundly criticized for keeping close to their vest during the opening weeks of their MERS outbreak.

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