Caixin
Jan 28, 2021 08:08 PM
CHINA

Locked-Down City’s Police Launch Probe Into Disease Exposure by ‘Patient Zero’

A medical worker verifies a resident’s personal information in Tonghua, Northeast China’s Jilin province.
A medical worker verifies a resident’s personal information in Tonghua, Northeast China’s Jilin province.

Police in the northeastern Chinese city that suffered food shortages during its Covid-19 lockdown have opened an investigation into whether the “patient zero” of the latest outbreak violated any infectious disease prevention rules.

The procuratorate of Tonghua, Jilin province, identified the patient as a man with an asymptomatic Covid-19 infection surnamed Lin who was hired by a local company on Jan. 9 to work in the city’s Dongchang district, where the first two confirmed cases of the outbreak were reported three days later.

The procuratorate said it has intervened to guide the police department in gathering evidence of any criminal acts that violate the country’s Criminal Law and Contagious Disease Prevention and Cure Law, under which spreading an A-category contagious disease can be punished with a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

The case is expected to be prosecuted publicly.

The investigation came after the recently announced punishment of a U.S. returnee who kept her Covid-19 symptoms secret, triggering dozens of infections. She was given a suspended jail sentence for violating disease control measures, causing “a serious risk that the novel coronavirus would spread,” according to the verdict.

The Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases requires all individuals to “accept investigations, tests, sample-taking, isolation treatments and other prevention and control measures undertaken by disease control and medical agencies, and provide relevant information truthfully.”

Contact editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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