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Coronavirus: Austrian woman guilty of breaking quarantine just days after catching COVID-19

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A woman in Klagenfurt, Austria who tested positive for the coronavirus was handed a suspended jail term for going to a supermarket while under quarantine -
A woman in Klagenfurt, Austria who tested positive for the coronavirus was handed a suspended jail term for going to a supermarket while under quarantine -   -   Copyright  Euronews
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A woman in Austria has been fined and given a suspended jail term after breaking quarantine to visit a supermarket just days after testing positive for coronavirus.

The judge slammed her move as "dangerous".

The 49-year-old offender had gone to the store to transfer money at a post office counter. It's unclear if she was wearing a mask.

In court, the Bosnian-born woman spoke of a family emergency: she had to send money to her sick daughter.

The regional court handed her an €800 fine and a six-month suspended prison sentence.

"Because, as a COVID-19 carrier, she was liable for putting people in danger," said Judge Christian Liebhauser-Karl.

Studies have shown that people are at risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 if they spend several minutes indoors close to an infected person with a high viral load.

With the ruling, the judge said he wanted to give other infected patients a clear warning.

"The general preventive aspect (of this case) is essential, namely deterring others from committing similar felonies," he told Euronews.

But it may not be just a one-off. Several criminal cases for quarantine violations are currently pending or under appeal in Austria – and even higher penalties are expected.

Worldwide crackdown on quarantine dodgers

Since the start of the pandemic and the introduction of lockdowns, many European states have been handing out fines to people violating quarantine orders, but prison sentences are much less common.

In Norway, anyone caught breaking home quarantine rules faces fines of up to 20,000 Norwegian kroner (€1,860) or a 15-day jail sentence.

In Russia, breaking quarantine rules is now punishable by up to seven years in prison.

And several Asian countries including China and Singapore have taken a tough stance against those dodging stay-at-home orders, including hefty fines and jail terms.

While in Myanmar, hundreds of people have already been jailed for violating curfews, quarantines, or other movement control orders, according to Human Rights Watch.