China man who left Seoul Covid19 quarantine, deported as cannot be arrested

SEOUL, 25 Jan 2023:

South Korea yesterday said it has deported the Chinese man who escaped from a quarantine facility after testing positive for Covid19 on arrival.

The 41-year-old man was deported on Jan 13, eight days after he was arrested at a Seoul hotel for refusing to undergo mandatory quarantine after testing positive in a PCR test conducted upon his arrival at the Incheon International Airport on Jan 3.

The man was referred to the prosecutor’s office on charges of violating the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, an official of the Central Disaster Management Headquarters said.

However, the processing of the case until the start of a court trial takes more than a month and since the violation “does not constitute a reason for formal arrest,” the man was released, the official added, local news agency Yonhap reported.

After his release, “the Immigration Service took the measure of forced deportation, which the agency can take on its own without a court trial,” the official said.

The Chinese man faces a fine of up to 10 million won (US$8,112) or up to one year in prison if found guilty. He has also reportedly been barred from entering South Korea for one year, Yonhap said.

In December, China announced an end to the strict Covid19 quarantines it had imposed for nearly three years, opening the door for people in the country to travel.

Following the announcement, South Korea on Dec 30 said it would impose restrictions on visitors from the neighbouring country starting that Monday, given the rise in cases there and to prevent the spread of new variants.

These include a negative Covid19 result prior to departure and a PCR test upon arrival. Upon testing positive, visitors are required to quarantine for seven days.