Intentionally infecting a person with Covid-19 could result in charges

18 March 2020 - 21:10 By Qaanitah Hunter
The government has unveiled strict new regulations to deal with the spread of coronavirus.
The government has unveiled strict new regulations to deal with the spread of coronavirus.
Image: 123rf.com/betonstudio

The government has introduced strict regulations that would see people who intentionally infect others with Covid-19 prosecuted for assault, attempted murder or even murder. 

The regulations were gazetted late on Wednesday by cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The regulations, effective immediately, detailed when people would be committing an offence or be liable for a penalty under the national state of disaster. 

If anyone disregards the government’s instructions to prevent gatherings of more than 100 people or more than 50 people where alcohol is served, they may face a fine, jail time or both. 

The government is taking unprecedented measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, which has been declared a global pandemic.

As of March 13 2020, the coronavirus had infected more than 130,000 people and killed more than 4,700 worldwide. The symptoms of Covid-19 can be similar to those of the common cold or flu. Symptoms that warrant further testing include shortness of breath, a high persistent fever, and being unable to eat or drink.

The state of disaster, which lasts for three months or longer if needed, suspends numerous rights and gives the government extended powers to combat the spread of the virus. 

“Any person who intentionally exposes another person to Covid-19 may be prosecuted for an offence, including assault, attempted murder or murder,” the regulation reads. 

A person may be imprisoned for up to six months and face a fine if they misrepresent being infected with Covid-19 and will be guilty of an offence.

"Any person who (a) convenes a gathering; (b) permits more than 50 persons at premises where liquor is sold and consumed, or (c) hinders, interferes with, or obstructs an enforcement officer in the exercise of his or her powers or the performance of his or her duties in terms of these regulations 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," states the regulation. 

The government is further cracking the whip against anyone who lies about being infected with the coronavirus. 

“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 confirmed.

Law enforcement is also not sparing people who spread fake news about Covid-19.

"Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about (a) Covid-19, (b) Covid-19 infection status of any person, or (c) any measure taken by the government to address Covid-19, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment."

The health department announced on Wednesday that confirmed cases in SA had reached 116, with eight new cases of local transmission.

The coronavirus is considered most dangerous for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Patients from Spain, Italy and Denmark who have recovered from the virus share their experiences.


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