A Filipino man was slapped with a hefty fine for flouting quarantine rules for mere seconds in Taiwan, one of the few places in the world that has successfully stemmed the spread of the coronavirus.
The migrant worker, who arrived in the southern port city of Kaohsiung last month, stepped out of his room for eight seconds to leave something at the door of a friend who was also quarantining, Taiwanese media have reported.
The violation was captured by a surveillance camera and reported to Taiwan’s health authorities. He was fined NT$100,000, or $3,500, for breaching mandatory quarantine after arriving in the city in November for work.
Taiwan has been lauded for its successful pandemic response, which has been attributed to mass testing and strict quarantine protocols.
The island has reported about 700 COVID-19 infections and fewer than 10 deaths. The low infection rate has allowed nearly 24 million Taiwanese people to live their lives almost normally – they’re free to go to restaurants and shops or attend concerts.
“There is no exemption here. That’s why they have controlled the number of cases,” Angelito Banayo, the Philippine representative to Taiwan, told VICE World News.
As the $3,500 fine illustrated, leaving one’s room during quarantine, no matter how long, is a serious offense in Taiwan. Those who break quarantine rules in the city face fines of up to $35,500.
Banayo warned Filipino migrant workers to strictly follow Taiwan’s quarantine rules.
Taiwanese health authorities raised their guard against the coronavirus after a recent spike in imported cases from foreign workers and fishermen returning to shore.
Last week, 22 foreign workers, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines, tested positive for the virus.