Returnee who hid travels, violated virus control rules imprisoned

( Updated : 2020-04-07

A man from Zhengzhou, Henan province, also a confirmed case of novel coronavirus pneumonia, was sentenced to one year and six months in prison on Friday by local court, as he did not abide by the epidemic control rules and causing dozens of others to be quarantined.

The Erqi District People's Court in Zhengzhou accepted the indictment of the prosecutors, identifying the defendant surnamed Guo as having committed the crime of disturbing the prevention of infectious diseases, adding that Guo pleaded guilty and would not appeal to a higher court.

According to the indictment, Guo, 29, fled out of Beijing on March 1 after he took a train to the capital from Zhengzhou. He transferred in Abu Dhabi and had visits respectively in Italy and France. On March 7, he went back to Beijing and then returned to Zhengzhou by train.

Under the rules issued by the Zhengzhou city government to fight the outbreak, every person returning from overseas should be quarantined and truthfully report their traveling histories, but Guo did not follow that. Instead, he went to work by subway and had meals in the workplace on March 8 and 9, the indictment said.

When Guo returned home on March 9 after work, he had a fever with throat pain and he went to a pharmacy on his own to buy medicine. That night, his mother also provided some homemade drugs for him.

On March 10, Guo's mother denied her son had traveled overseas when police found clues and called him for confirmation. Later, Guo confessed to police about his European visit, it added.

Guo was then confirmed as contracting the virus after being sent to a designated place to receive medical observation. More than 40 people with close contact with the man had to be quarantined, it said.

Besides Guo's case, the Supreme People's Procuratorate also disclosed another two criminal cases involving returnees from overseas and still being handled by prosecutors on Friday.

Both were confirmed COVID-19 cases who did not truthfully report their travels or health condition when entering in China, causing several others to be quarantined, the procuratorate said.

The Supreme People's Procuratorate said that public security bureaus across the country have solved nearly 200 such cases as of Wednesday, and most of the people whose behaviors did not seriously affect others and public order were given administrative punishments, including fines or administrative detention.

Some in serious situations, such as those taking public vehicles after returns and causing others to be infected or quarantined, may face criminal charges, it said.

As of Thursday, a total of 2,179 people were taken by prosecutors nationwide to courts for their possible offenses relating to the outbreak, it said.

The criminal charges involved disturbing public order, producing or selling fake goods, illegal business, fraud, falsifying information and illegal consumption of wild animals, it added.