South Korea began placing electronic bracelets on people who have disobeyed self-isolation orders, toughening up against quarantine violators to combat the new coronavirus.
“From midnight today, those who violated quarantine rules among those who have been obliged to self-isolate at their residences started to wear the band. Only the people who consented to wear the band will do so,” Park Jong-hyun, an official at the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, said during a press briefing session Monday.
Some 39,740 people in the country were in self-isolation as of Sunday, with 95 percent of them having just arrived from abroad, according to the ministry.
Of them, 286 people have so far been caught violating the 14-day self-isolation rules by venturing out from their homes.
The government opted to use wristbands to stop people from violating quarantine because tracking apps are easily cheated by users who leave their phones at home.
Seeking to ease concerns over human rights breaches stemming from harsh enforcement measures, the ministry said the wristband would provide an option for self-isolation violators.
Under current law, heads of municipal and provincial government are authorized to confine violators at government-designated facilities, but those who consent to wear the band can continue to stay at home, Park said.
The government distributed 2,000 of the wristbands to local governments.
The country now has COVID-19 mostly under control, having reported fewer than 15 new patients per day for nine consecutive days. Even so, a series of public holidays in late April and early May is causing concern about the possibility of a resurgence.
Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip stressed the need for tough quarantine measures to remain in place, such as mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all travelers coming from overseas and health screening at airports and ports, amid a growing number of cases where the respiratory virus was transmitted from an unknown source.
The number of patients with an unknown infection source has grown from three among 175 confirmed cases last week to six in 65 confirmed cases this week.
“This means that COVID-19 patients, which the health authorities haven’t confirmed, still exist in the community, and that a large-scale infection can spread again with a moment of neglect,” Kim said.
Efforts to stay vigilant about monitoring high-risk facilities like nursing homes and residences for elderly, disabled and homeless people will continue.
“We plan to conduct reexaminations twice a week for facilities and hospitals where mass infections have occurred and thoroughly take the necessary measures to prevent transmission,” he said.
Korea reported 10 more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the nation’s total infections to 10,738, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.
Of the 10 new patients, seven were imported cases, including five who were detected at border checkpoints.
One more patient has died, raising the death toll to 243.
The number of those who have been discharged from care after recovery marked 8,764, accounting for 81.6 percent of the total accumulated cases.
Korea’s fatality rate stands at 2.26 percent -- higher for seniors aged 80 and older at 23.92 percent, followed by those aged over 70 with 10.17 percent.
By Park Han-na(firstname.lastname@example.org