BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - A Chinese man has been fined 200,000 yuan (S$42,500) and given a two-year suspended prison sentence after concealing contact with Covid-19 patients and flouting quarantine, as the country toughens restrictions in an uphill battle to eliminate the virus.
The man, surnamed Cao, did not disclose that he had stayed in a hotel with Covid-19 patients and that he had developed a fever and other Covid-related symptoms during a business trip to Vietnam, according to local media reports.
He also broke quarantine rules after returning home in April, sneaking out of his hotel room to meet friends.
A court in the south-western province of Guangxi, which borders Vietnam, handed down the fine and prison sentence, which was suspended for three years.
Cao, along with four people he travelled to Vietnam with, tested positive for Covid-19 after returning home. The group was immediately isolated and did not spread the virus into the community.
Genetic sequencing showed they were infected with the Delta variant, which has caused some of the country's most widespread outbreaks after the strain breached China's tightly controlled borders in recent months.
The Chinese mainland and Hong Kong are the last holdouts of the so-called Covid Zero approach, which worked well at eliminating cases in the first year of the pandemic but has been abandoned by places like Singapore and Australia because it is almost impossible to maintain against the more contagious Delta variant.
People flouting Covid-19 restrictions face stiff penalties elsewhere.
In South Korea, people breaking quarantine or giving false information about their whereabouts face fines of 10 million won (S$11,407).
In Australia, breaching Covid-related public health orders is a criminal offence that can lead to fines of up to US$11,000 (S$14,900).