Coronavirus law

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New coronavirus laws: You can now be jailed for these offences

Spreading fake news to purposefully infecting someone with the coronavirus — it all constitutes breaking the law and could translate into serving jail time.

Coronavirus law

Image via Adobe Stock

With the not-so-new coronavirus coming into play, so did new laws — and understandably so. In recent weeks, we thought of coronavirus as the perpetrator and humanity as the victim, but that can very well get canned. 

There are now laws put in place for those who spread fake coronavirus news, those who refuse to be quarantined once suspected of carrying the virus or testing positive, and for those who are purposefully spreading the coronavirus — yes, it’s possible.

Here are the new coronavirus laws one should be aware of and how long one can get jail time for any of these offences. 

Spreading fake coronavirus news

According to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), a person who spreads fake news regarding the coronavirus, will be held liable. 

“Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about COVID-19, the COVID-19 infection status of any person; or any measure taken by the government to address COVID-19, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment,” the statement read.  

This could translate into jail time for a period not exceeding six months. 

Refusing to be examined, quarantined or treated for the coronavirus

If it has been confirmed that you have the coronavirus, you’ve been suspected of having it or you’ve been in contact with someone who has it, you cannot — by law — refuse treatment or isolation.  

“No person who has been clinically, or by a laboratory, confirmed as having COVID-19, or who is suspected of having contracted COVID-19, or who has been in contact with a person who is a carrier of COVID–19, may refuse consent to a medical examination, admission to a health establishment or a quarantine or isolation site; or submission to mandatory prophylaxis, treatment, isolation or quarantine or isolation in order to prevent transmission,” it said. 

A warrant may be issued by a magistrate if: 

  • A person is confirmed as having been infected with COVID-19; 
  • On reasonable grounds suspected of having contracted COVID-19; and
  • Has been in contact with, or on reasonable grounds suspected to have been in contact with a person who is a carrier or infected with COVID–19. 

A warrant will remain in full force until: 

  • The above is executed;
  • It is cancelled by the person who issued it or if such person is not available; 
  • The expiry of 90 days from the date of its issue; and
  • The purpose for the issuing of the warrant has lapsed. 

Also, no person is entitled to compensation for any loss or damage arising out of any bona fide action or omission by an enforcement officer under this regulation.

Purposefully spreading the virus 

In this case, any person who intentionally exposes another person to coronavirus may be prosecuted for an offence, including assault, attempted murder or murder.

The amount of time that one can be jailed for purposeful transmission of the coronavirus, could be the same amount of time that one could serve for murder or attempted murder which, let’s be frank, is nowhere close to six months. So best you think twice before trying to infect someone. 

Misrepresentation of the virus 

If you intentionally misinterpret that you or anyone else has the coronavirus, it is considered a breach of the law.

“Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with COVID-19, is guilty of an offence and on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment,” it added. 

If you don’t think this is a big deal, think again. Falsely accusing a person of having the coronavirus could, unfortunately, attach an unwanted stigma to them which is never a good idea. 

Convening gatherings 

Any person who convenes a gathering, permits more than 50 people at premises where liquor is sold and consumed or hinders, interferes with, or obstructs an enforcement officer in the exercise of his or her powers, is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both a fine and imprisonment.