Quarantine breakers may face jail sentence and fines

ENOUGH of explaining, advising and appealing to people to behave responsibly and keep themselves, their families and everyone else free of SARS.  

On Tuesday Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was clearly disappointed that weeks of putting simple messages across had not brought about the change in behaviour this deadly outbreak demands. 

Two cases of irresponsible social behaviour by Singaporeans suspected of having SARS – in one instance by a family of eight – and a spate of breaches by individuals ordered to stay at home, prompted him to take unusual action. 

He wrote an open letter to everyone living here, reminding people to take personal responsibility in the war on SARS – and warning errant quarantine breakers that tough new measures, with fines and jail terms, will be in place by Friday. 

“Taking a lenient attitude will not help us break the cycle of infection,'' he said on Tuesday. 

He announced that those under home quarantine who do not cooperate by answering telephone calls from officials checking on them would be immediately tagged electronically – whether or not they have broken the quarantine. 

Parliament, at its sitting yesterday, pushed through amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act – in double quick time – to allow the authorities to fine anyone who breached home quarantine orders without having to charge him in court. 

Jail terms also await those who defy the quarantine order repeatedly. –The Straits Times/ Asia News Network  

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