How rule-breakers have set back efforts to contain Covid-19

Arrested partygoers after the raid on Three Sixty Bar on Koh Phangan, Thailand, on Jan 26, 2021. PHOTO: SURAT THANI IMMIGRATION/SUPAPONG CHAOLAN

At a time when the world is facing the worst disease outbreak in just over a century, the selfish actions of some individuals threaten to jeopardise efforts to combat the pandemic, as well as endanger other people's lives. Thankfully, Covid-19 rule-breakers are often brought to book.

Casino CEO ousted

Mr Rod Baker and his wife flew to the northern Yukon territory to be inoculated. PHOTO: EKATERINA BAKER/FACEBOOK

The unscrupulous CEO of a Canadian casino firm thought he had successfully jumped the queue to get a Covid-19 jab for himself and his actress wife, but was forced to resign after quick-thinking locals discovered the ruse.

Mr Rod Baker, 55, of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp - which is valued at nearly US$2 billion (S$2.66 billion) - and his wife, Ekaterina, 32, flew to the remote northern Yukon territory to be inoculated. The home to many indigenous people has a faster vaccination rate than the rest of Canada.

The duo, who pretended to be motel employees, were exposed when they asked to be taken to the airport straight after they were vaccinated in the small community of Beaver Creek, located on the border with the US state of Alaska. The Vancouver residents had flown there by private plane.

The community has expressed outrage that the wealthy individuals received only a fine from the authorities, demanding jail time for the deception. Situated five hours from the nearest major hospital, residents are at a higher risk of death if they contract the virus. Mr and Mrs Baker also received a fine for failing to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Yukon.

They were forced to walk back to the Beaver Creek airport after all of the town's 125 residents refused to give them a ride.

Thai police bust party

The foreigners now face up to two years' imprisonment and a 40,000 baht fine. PHOTO: SURAT THANI IMMIGRATION/SUPAPONG CHAOLAN

When 89 foreigners gathered for an illegal party at a bar on the popular Thai resort island of Koh Phangan last Tuesday (Jan 26), they had little clue that the police also planned to arrive unannounced.

Those arrested at the Three Sixty Bar for violating restrictions imposed under the national state of emergency declared in Thailand last March came from 10 countries, including the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Denmark.

Also arrested were 22 Thai nationals, including the owner of the bar on the island situated in southern Thailand. The event was intended to celebrate the bar's fifth anniversary, with a 100 baht (S$4.44) entry ticket.

Photographs distributed by the police after the raid showed the partygoers looking sombre as even more grim-faced policemen - who had tracked the party on social media - took them into custody.

Thankfully, almost everyone was wearing a face mask.

The reckless foreigners are now facing up to two years' imprisonment and a 40,000 baht fine, while the bar owner may also be saddled with a 100,000 baht penalty for violating the Communicable Disease Act.

Quarantine breakers in Taiwan

A Taiwanese man was fined a record NT$1 million (S$47,500) for breaking his home quarantine at least seven times in just three days after returning from a business trip to mainland China.

The resident of Taichung, in central Taiwan, was found to have snuck out of his apartment building to go shopping and have his car fixed, among other escapades.

He got into hot water after one of his neighbours confronted him about leaving his home when he was supposed to be observing Taiwan's mandatory 14-day quarantine after returning to Taichung on Jan 21.

In addition to the fine, which is the largest imposed by the Taiwan government yet for a breach of coronavirus restrictions, the unnamed man was also ordered to pay NT$3,000 per day towards the cost of his quarantine.

The government has been compensating people NT$1,000 per day for the duration of their quarantine, but the man has been stripped of that entitlement.

Taiwan has been lauded for its handling of the pandemic, including tough enforcement of rules.

The worker was fined NT$100,000, for every second he was outside the room. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

That was also seen in the case of a Philippine migrant worker who wandered out of the room he was being quarantined in for eight seconds last month.

The man was caught on CCTV by staff at the hotel in Kaohsiung City, and was then reported to the city's Department of Health.

He was fined NT$100,000, translating into NT$12,500 for every second he was outside the room.

The Department of Health has issued a stern warning that people in quarantine should not be under the impression that they will not be fined for leaving their hotel room, no matter for how long.

Around 3,000 rooms have been converted into dedicated quarantine facilities at 56 hotels in Kaohsiung city.

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