S Korean accused of lying to COVID-19 investigators sent to jail

Prosecutors say infections in at least 80 other people were traced to the 24-year-old man, who taught at a school in Incheon.

According to the Yonhap news agency, the man, who was sentenced to six months in prison, has apologised in court for his deception [Jung Yeon-je/AFP]

A South Korean man accused of lying to authorities about his job and whereabouts during a coronavirus-tracing investigation has been jailed for six months, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.

The case is the most high profile yet in the South Korean government’s aggressive efforts to track, trace, and quarantine suspected coronavirus cases.

The court in Incheon, just to the west of Seoul, said the 24-year-old man impeded contact tracing by lying in at least 20 instances and “inflicted huge economic and social damage and caused fear among community members,” Yonhap reported.

The man was accused of not disclosing that he taught at a school in Incheon after he tested positive for the coronavirus in May, during a significant outbreak which involved several nightclubs and bars in Seoul.

Prosecutors, who had asked for a two-year sentence, said infections in at least 80 other people were traced to the man.

According to the Yonhap news agency, the man apologised in court, saying he did not realise the serious repercussions of his actions.

On Thursday, the country’s daily new cases rose by double digits, as the government considers extending tougher curbs to help contain the spread of the disease that are due to expire on Sunday.

The country added 69 COVID-19 cases, including 60 local infections, raising the total caseload to 24,422, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The agency also reported two additional deaths raising the toll to 427, which is equivalent to 1.75 percent death rate.

The country designated September 28 to October 11 as a special two-week period for tougher virus curbs due to concerns of a resurgence after a key holiday season, which runs until Friday.

Sohn Young-rae, a senior health official, said in a press briefing that the government needs more time to assess the trend of new cases, and will make an announcement on Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters