South Korea makes first foreigner arrest over quarantine violation


Posted at May 21 2020 08:08 PM

South Korea makes first foreigner arrest over quarantine violation 1
People wearing protective masks walk on an empty street in Itaewon following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seoul, South Korea, May 14, 2020. Cha Sangmi, Reuters

SEOUL - South Korean police arrested a foreign national for violating the country's mandated 14-day quarantine rules for the first time on Thursday, amid fears of a potential second wave of the new coronavirus.

The arrest of the 23-year-old Japanese man was the first such detention of a foreign citizen, though the country has previously arrested 4 South Koreans, including 2 from Seoul, a police station official in the capital's Seodaemun district said.

The man entered the country on May 2 with a work visa and, after a negative coronavirus test at the airport, was ordered to self-quarantine for 2 weeks as it is mandatory for all arrivals.

Police said surveillance video footage and card transactions showed that he had broken the rules on 8 out of 14 days, including for visits to restaurants, cafes and a vet.

The Japanese man, who will face trial, was being held at the police station and would soon be sent to a detention center, the official added.

In late March, the country's health ministry warned it would deport foreigners and South Korean citizens could face jail time for violating self-quarantine rules after a surge in imported coronavirus cases.

After weeks of nearly no new domestic cases, South Korea relaxed its lockdown on May 6, but a subsequent spike in infections linked to a nightlife neighborhood in Seoul forced a rapid re-think.

Schools reopened on Wednesday after the beginning of the Spring semester had been postponed several times since March, but the discovery of new cases in 2 students marred the reopening and forced 75 high schools to send pupils back home.

South Korea has reported a total 11,122 infections so far with 264 deaths.