Chinese runaway on wanted list after fleeing Covid isolation

He was confirmed to have the virus and was sent to a hotel near Incheon Airport, but fled while waiting to be assigned a room.

Lee Jung-Youn

Lee Jung-Youn

The Korea Herald


Entrants follow the quarantine officials after entering the country through Incheon International Airport Terminal 1, Yeongjong Island, Incheon, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

January 5, 2023

SEOUL – Police have put a Chinese national on the wanted list after he ran away and refused to be isolated, although he had tested positive for COVID-19 upon his arrival to Korea.

According to Incheon Metropolitan Police and disease control authorities, the 41-year-old was tested under the new COVID-19 mandate applied to travelers from China on Tuesday, and was confirmed to have the virus later in the evening. He was sent to a hotel on Yeongjongdo near Incheon Airport, but fled while waiting to be assigned a room, according to authorities.

Police found via security camera footage that the man had visited a supermarket 300 meters from the hotel, but were not able to track his whereabouts after. Police said they would start a probe if the disease control agency filed a complaint against him for violating COVID-19 rules.

“If arrested, he will face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 10 million won ($7,870),” said Kim Ju-young, director of the medical support team at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters. “He will receive a departure order and will be restricted from entering Korea for certain period.”

Disease control authorities said they would deploy more police or order maintenance personnel to the site.

They also said that a significant percentage of COVID-19 overseas inflow came from China.

“Of the 460 confirmed cases of overseas inflow last week, 142 people — about 31 percent — were from China,” Health Minister Cho Kyu-hong said Wednesday.

The government has been implementing strengthened COVID-19 controls to entrants from China since Monday, including short-term visa restrictions and testing before and after entry, to prevent an influx of confirmed patients from China, where COVID-19 has recently surged following greatly relaxed restrictions. From Saturday, arrivals from Hong Kong and Macao will also be subjected to toughened measures.

Cho said strengthening control measures was an essential measure to block the inflow of COVID-19 into Korea.

“I ask all related ministries and local governments to make every effort to ensure that quarantine measures are implemented smoothly,” he said.

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