MERS 'Lie about having disease, you go to jail!' - South Korean health authorities

The law is designed to curb the MERS outbreak by tightening quarantine restrictions and imposing jail sentences on those who defy anti-infection measures.

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People infected with MERS in South Korea who lie to state investigators about how they contacted the disease could face possible jail time as the country has passed a new law to this effect.

The law is designed to curb the MERS outbreak by tightening quarantine restrictions and imposing jail sentences on those who defy anti-infection measures.

According to the health ministry, false testimony would entail up two years in prison or 20 million won (about N3.5 million) in fines.

It further said "interviewees will (now) feel compelled to provide honest answers.”

The fine replaces the maximum 2-million-won (about N350,000) fine that could be meted out to anyone who did not tell the truth under previous legislation.

The new law also strengthens officials’ power to restrict the movement of infected people and close contaminated facilities, with offenders who refuse to follow their orders also facing 2 years in prison or a $18,000 fine.

In keeping with the MERS fight, the number of state health workers in charge of preventing outbreaks and tracing them will also be doubled to more than 60.

Furthermore, the country announced a $14 billion stimulus package to boost the economy as the outbreak further dampened the already sagging economy, scaring away tourists and forcing consumers to stay home.

Meanwhile, 2 people were reported dead from the virus today (Friday) - both women, aged 79 and 80, had existing health conditions. This brings the total number of fatalities to 31 people so far.

Also, a doctor at Seoul’s Samsung Medical Center, the hospital where nearly half of all infections have been traced, was also confirmed to have contracted the disease.

A total of 2,931 people in South Korea are currently in isolation, including 759 in hospital and 2,172 at their homes.

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