Japan approves first fines for COVID-19 law infractions

Tokyo, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- Japanese approved Wednesday the first fines for people and companies that fail to comply with measures implemented to combat COVID-19, such as cutting business hours, closure orders or hospitalizations.

The law mandates the hospitalization of infected people, but there have been cases of those who refused to be admitted and even patients who left the facilities during treatment and returned to their daily lives, increasing the risk of propagation.

Until the approval of the new regulations, Japanese authorities could only make non-binding requests and recommendations for the population to comply with measures, including the isolation of patients with mild symptoms in hotels or homes, with no more control than regular calls.

“We have incorporated sanctions to guarantee the effectiveness” of measures, Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said in a parliamentary committee, reported by Kyodo news agency.

One of the amendments revises the aforementioned infectious disease law and introduces fines of up to 500,000 yen (about $ 4,760) for people who refuse to be hospitalized and up to 300,000 yen for those who do not participate in health authorities’ epidemiological data surveys.

The amendment also allows authorities to issue warnings to medical facilities to accept COVID-19 patients and publish the names of those who do not, an embarrassing measure widely used in the country.

The regulation also revises the law on special measures against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases and allows local authorities to issue orders to reduce business hours or temporarily close.

Businesses that do not comply may receive fines of up to 200,000 yen, which would climb to up to 300,000 yen if the territory was in a state of emergency, among other measures.

The approval of the first fines linked to violators of anti-covid measures in Japan came a day after the country extended until Mar. 7 the state of emergency that affects its most populated regions, including Tokyo.

Japan has so far recorded more than 394,500 COVID-19 cases and 5,925 deaths, more than 60 percent of them since December.

The country recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday, 118, according to the latest data available from the Ministry of Health. EFE-EPA


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