As concerns rise over people neglecting rules meant to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey is considering a harsher response. A report by Hürriyet newspaper says authorities plan to introduce prison terms for those violating quarantine rules, along with more fines.
Those breaking out of quarantine will face a prison term of up to one year with the enforcement of an article in the Turkish Penal Code, which carries sentences for those “violating rules against infectious diseases.”
The report says the government is not considering introducing curfews again but may increase measures in specific areas based on the number of cases in every region or province. Weekend curfews and curfews for senior citizens and children were lifted earlier with a drop in the number of cases.
Nationwide inspections followed the normalization process, which began in June, and those not wearing masks faced fines. Following reports of people refusing to follow quarantine guidelines, security forces stepped up measures. Those violating mandatory self-isolation at home if tested positive are now required to spend the isolation period at state-run dormitories, bearing all the expenses themselves. The Hürriyet report says along with fines, people violating the rules can be subject to other penalties, like a ban on access to public services.
Arzu Aşçı, from the Faculty of Law of Izmir University of Economics in the eponymous western province, said Turkish laws allow punishment for those spreading the virus “deliberately.” Aşçı told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Thursday that spreading the virus knowingly may be interpreted as “deliberate injury” or “deliberate manslaughter” under Turkish laws. “Citizens need to consider the welfare of society and obey rules meant to stop the pandemic. Article 195 of the penal code says that a person who does not obey measures taken by authorities for the quarantine of a place with a patient suffering from an infectious disease or a place with a patient who died of infectious disease can be punished with prison terms between two months and one year,” Aşçı highlighted.
The Interior Ministry on Thursday ordered the governorates in 81 provinces to launch criminal proceedings against those “perjuring" the information they provide authorities. The governorates were urged to monitor coronavirus patients who supply “untrue or misleading” information about people they came in contact with and execute a legal article that calls for prison terms of up to two years or fines for those who “perjured themselves to civil servants tasked with creating official documents.” The order aims to improve contact tracing work.
The ministry said some patients avoided giving correct information about the people they came into contact, especially those working in private sector, out of economic concerns that may lead a business to stop its activities. Some patients also deliberately supplied false information about people they contacted, naming people they never came close as their contacts, “for some reason,” the ministry said.
Turkey reported on Wednesday 1,767 new COVID-19 cases and 72 deaths within the past 24 hours. According to daily data released by the ministry, the new infections were identified in more than 112,102 COVID-19 tests, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 308,069. The death toll from coronavirus increased to 7,711. Meanwhile, the total number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 increased to 270,723, with 1,027 patients declared free of the coronavirus in the past day. The country has been seeing a resurgence in coronavirus infections for the past few weeks, with daily infection rates rising slowly but steadily.
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