Coronavirus: South Korea plans tracking wristbands for people in quarantine

Coronavirus: South Korea plans tracking wristbands for people in quarantine
Coronavirus: South Korea plans tracking wristbands for people in quarantine

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - South Korea will start using tracking wristbands to prevent people from flouting home quarantine orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus, officials said on Saturday.

Stricter controls are required because some of the 57,000 people who are under orders to stay home have slipped out by leaving behind smartphones with tracking apps, South Korean officials said.

"After much consideration, the government has decided to put electronic bracelets on people who violate self-isolation rules, such as going outside without notice and not answering phone calls, " Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said during a meeting of the central disaster and safety countermeasures headquarters in Seoul.

So far, more than 160 people have been caught violating the self-isolation rules, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

The wristbands are designed to alert officials if the wearers leave home or try to destroy or cut them off.

Plans for broader use of the wristbands were scaled back after objections by human rights and legal activists.

A South Korean health official, Yoon Tae-ho, acknowledged privacy and civil liberties concerns about the wristband plan. He said they were necessary because the number of people under self-quarantine soared after the country began requiring 14-day isolation for anyone arriving from abroad beginning April 1.

Lee Beom-seok, an official from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, said the government lacked legal authority to compel people to wear the wristbands so they would be asked to sign consent forms.

Under the country’s recently strengthened laws on infectious diseases, people can face up to a year in prison or be fined as much as $8,200 (Dh30,100) for breaking quarantine orders. Mr Lee said those who agree to wear the wristbands might be considered for lighter punishment.

South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said at least 886 of the country’s 10,480 coronavirus infections had been traced to international arrivals.

The number of people under self-quarantine includes 49,697 who arrived from abroad. Another 1,340 foreign short-term visitors are quarantined.

South Korea reported 30 new cases on Saturday, its sixth straight day of 50 or fewer new infections and a sharp drop from the peak of 909 on February 29. The country's death toll from the coronavirus rose by three to 211.

Updated: April 11, 2020 04:41 PM

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