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Deputy Mayor: Violators of Home Isolation, Quarantine Will be Punished

Deputy Mayor Huang at the city hall meeting Taipei City Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-Shan convened the 6th meeting of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak response team at the city hall in the afternoon of February 10. In regard to citizens placed under home isolation or house quarantine and violating the Communicable Disease Control Act, the city government will simplify the penal process in order to enforce the law swiftly and sternly.

During the media interview afterwards, Huang first explained the main objectives of today’s meeting, which include the simplification of the penal process for citizens leaving their homes while under home isolation or house quarantine. Secondly, the city government’s major events before the end of April were reviewed to decide which events to cancel and to determine the estimated loss or related compensation for the decisions. Moreover, in light of the Diamond Princess incident, the procedure of home isolation or house quarantine must be double-checked, while other monitoring techniques will be refined to close up any potential loopholes in the system.

When the journalists asked if punishments for people under home isolation or house quarantine will be quicker in the future, Huang replied that the existing procedure involves collecting evidence after the Department of Health (DOH) receives notification from the Police Department and Department of Civil Affairs. However, the required evidence is often lacking, therefore the new simplified approach will involve the borough chief, borough secretary, district office, the DOH, and health center visiting the home of those under home isolation or house quarantine to confirm that the person in question is not there, the Police Department will then check for text message warnings on their smartphones and cross-reference the person’s name with the list given to the Taipei City Government by the Department of Civil Affairs, MOI. Together, the 3 types of information can be combined to verify that the person has indeed left the place of home isolation or house quarantine and he/she will be penalized accordingly. Previously, the penal process was extremely slow due to the amount of paperwork required, hence in addition to the 2 offenders announced the other day, a total of 4 offenders have been penalized so far.

Huang stressed that as soon as citizens under home isolation or house quarantine can be proven to have left their homes, the city government will penalize them immediately because one cannot be too careful about the outbreak.

In response to the reporter’s question on the number of people under home isolation, Huang said that there are currently 113 citizens under home isolation and 573 under house quarantine, of which 561 are asymptomatic and 4 are symptomatic. Furthermore, 2 of them have exhibited minor symptoms but have yet to seek medical attention and 6 of the people under house quarantine have gone AWOL, so the city government has notified the National Policy Agency to track them down.

When the journalists asked whether the locations in Neihu that were frequented by the youngest son of the family of 4 that had contracted the Wuhan coronavirus while traveling in Italy should be sterilized, Huang replied that the city government will take the necessary procedures upon receiving notification from the central government, hence as long as those under house quarantine are notified to the city government after the outbreak investigation, the city government will definitely implement the required steps.

The journalists questioned that, after announcing the active areas of the family, will it cause public panic, to which Huang indicated that publicizing the family’s information is certainly illegal, but who disclosed such information is still under investigation, and the person(s) responsible will be penalized accordingly. Of course, the individual(s) will have someone they know in the community; in particular, people are reasonably vigilant towards the outbreak, thus there is no need to panic. Besides, there are only 18 confirmed cases in Taiwan, so the situation is under control, and the city government has carried out all the necessary disinfection operations, so as long as the 14-day self-health management is enforced adequately without a hitch, the public should not be too concerned.