South Korea adopts ‘no-tolerance’ coronavirus quarantine policy, violators risk deportation, jail

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Stay at home, or risk going to the slammer.

After a surge in new coronavirus cases, South Korea warned Thursday of a crackdown that may result in jail or deportation for those who disobey quarantines.

As of Thursday morning, South Korea had 9,241 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 131 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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Health authorities have been scrambling to prevent the virus from re-entering as an increasing number of South Koreans return from Europe and the United States, amid broadening outbreaks.

South Korea began testing all passengers arriving from Europe on Sunday, and enforcing 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals arriving from Europe and foreigners coming certain areas.

Workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

Workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Park Min-suck/Newsis via AP)

But health officials said Thursday that at least 11 people violated self-quarantine rules between March 13 and 24.

“We will apply zero-tolerance principles in taking action against those who leave their self-isolation venue without legitimate reasons,” Yoon Tae-ho, director-general for public health policy at the health ministry, told reporters, according to Reuters.

An army soldier sprays disinfectant to curb the spread of the coronavirus at a library in Daegu, South Korea, Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

An army soldier sprays disinfectant to curb the spread of the coronavirus at a library in Daegu, South Korea, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Kim Hyun-tae/Yonhap via AP)

“Foreign nationals will be forcibly repatriated and Korean citizens will be reported to police for due penalties and lose financial support provided for those who have faithfully implemented a 14-day quarantine,” Yoon added.

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A woman wearing a face mask passes by a poster about precautions against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 26, 2020.

A woman wearing a face mask passes by a poster about precautions against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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South Korean Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun ordered officials to employ a “no-tolerance” policy on those who disobey quarantines, saying that South Korean nationals would be sued and foreigners would be expelled.

South Korean citizens who violate the rules may face fines up to $8,100 and up to a year in jail, according to Reuters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.