​Chinese man caught in Seoul two days after fleeing from quarantine facility

By Park Yoon-bae Posted : January 5, 2023, 15:13 Updated : January 5, 2023, 18:20

This photograph shows Chinese tourists to South Korea waiting in line to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at Incheon International Airport. [Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- Police said on January 5 that they caught a 41-year-old Chinese man infected with COVID-19 who ran away from a quarantine facility after arriving at Incheon International Airport. He was tested positive for the coronavirus after undergoing a PCR test at the airport.

The fugitive was apprehended at a Seoul hotel at 12:55 p.m. (0355 GMT), two days after he went into hiding, according to the police.

He fled at 10:07 p.m. on January 3 after getting out of a car which brought him to a hotel designated by health authorities as a temporary quarantine facility for foreigners in Incheon, west of Seoul. He was supposed to be segregated at the hotel under the quarantine rules.

On January 4, the police released CCTV footage showing that the man ran some 300 meters away from the hotel to a discount store and then disappeared. They presumed that he took a taxi to go into hiding somewhere in Seoul.

The Chinese national is suspected of violating the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act. He may face a maximum one-year jail term or a fine of up to 10 million won ($7,850), let alone deportation, if he is convicted of breaching the law.

Health authorities are under criticism for the loose quarantine system for foreign arrivals who tested positive for the pandemic.

A health official at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said that the authorities will take proper steps in collaboration with police and related agencies to prevent such an incident from happening again.

The runaway case occurred when the government was strengthening its quarantine efforts for Chinese travelers amid the resurgence of the pandemic in China.

Starting January 2, all arrivals from China are required to stay in separate facilities until their test results come out. Those who test positive for the coronavirus should be quarantined at the segregated facilities for one week.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), 131, or 76 percent, of 172 imported COVID-19 cases reported on January 3 were from China, and 19 were from other Asian countries. And 42 percent of 587 foreign arrivals, who tested positive for the virus between December 29 to January 4, were from China.
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