PEOPLE who have been placed under home quarantine will now have to report in front of a surveillance camera several times a day.
If they are not at home when healthcare workers call, they will have to use an electronic tag on their wrist and will be given a written warning.
The tags are linked to a telephone line dedicated to the quarantine scheme and will alert the authorities if the person leaves his home or tries to break his tag.
The idea is similar to a scheme used to track prison inmates serving their sentence at home.
The government has had to resort to such measures because several people who had been ordered to stay home flouted the instruction.
The Health Ministry said that 12 people have broken quarantine orders since it invoked the Infectious Diseases Act on March 25.
Five of them are from a secondary school and a kindergarten. One is a polytechnic student and the other six are immediate family members of SARS patients.
In one case, a woman under stay-at-home orders came down with a fever and went to see her general practitioner on April 3, without revealing she was under quarantine.
Two days later, when her fever had not gone down, her relatives broke their quarantine and ferried her in a car to the National University Hospital (NUH), instead of using the ambulance service to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), the designated SARS hospital.
She is now down with SARS and warded at NUH's intensive care unit because she is too sick to be transferred to TTSH. Her husband was diagnosed with SARS on Thursday.
None of NUH's nurses or doctors has fallen ill.
There are currently 490 people ordered to stay home because they have come into contact with SARS patients.
On Thursday, Cisco officers served the quarantine orders on 200 people and installed an electronic picture camera at the homes of all 490.
The cameras can be switched on and off by users – to maintain their privacy. But when health officials call, they must switch on the camera and stand in front of it. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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