Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Interior ministry gets tough on quarantine busters

STAFF REPORTER, WITH DPA

The Ministry of the Interior will start conducting random checks on home-quarantine patients nationwide from today to ensure strict enforcement, Interior Minister Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) said yesterday.

The ministry's decision came in the wake of media reports that up to 40 percent of those issued with home-quarantine notices have not reported to designated quarantine authorities.

According to statistics from the ministry's civil affairs department, 10,954 people have been issued home-quarantine notices nationwide, but only 6,363 of them have reported to designated authorities.

People who have been issued with home-quarantine notices are required to report to township-level health centers or borough wardens, either in person or by telephone, within 24 hours.

They can also report to superiors at their company if they are to undergo quarantine under their company's supervision.

The notices also require them to wears masks and prohibits them from using public transportation.

Those who fail to report for home quarantine as required are subject to fines ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$300,000 and a prison term of up to two years.

Yu said the ministry has issued notices to all county and city governments nationwide informing them that random checks will begin today. The ministry will also coordinate with the health authorities to punish those who violate the quarantine rules, Yu said.

Yu went to Taipei City's Chungshan district and Taipei County's Sanchung City on Sunday to inspect the home quarantine measures there.

The ministry is also planning random inspections to be carried out personally by vice ministers in northern Taiwan.

These inspections are expected to begin in a few days and will include Keelung City, Taoyuan County and Hsinchu County.

In related news, law enforcement officials expressed concern yesterday that quarantine rules aimed at curbing the spread of SARS are not being properly enforced.

One of the reported cases was a 32-year-old man in Tainan who was arrested for alleged theft at a parking lot, but was also found to be violating a 10-day home-quarantine order.

The man was required to abide by quarantine rules imposed by health authorities, since he had just returned from China, an officer with the Tainan Police said.

The police officer notified Tainan's Health Bureau, but it said the bureau needed to first check the man's identity to see if he had been issued with a quarantine order.

The officer said they then sent the man to the prosecutor's office, but that the office told them not to do so until the man had finished with his 10-day quarantine.

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