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The government is considering imposing criminal penalties on COVID-19 patients who refuse to be hospitalized, officials said Friday.

The government is also considering criminal penalties for people who reject active epidemiological investigations to be conducted by local public health centers to figure out infection routes, the officials said.

It aims to include these measures in legislation to revise the infectious diseases law that will be submitted to the ordinary session of the Diet, the country’s parliament, to be convened later this month.

The law stipulates that prefectural governors can forcibly hospitalize patients with COVID-19 and other dangerous infectious diseases to prevent wider infections. Such hospitalization basically targets people age 65 or over and those with underlying health conditions.

The law currently has no criminal penalties against people who refuse such hospitalization or those escaping from a hospital. For active epidemiological investigations, there are no penalties on those who refuse to answer to questions about their history of activities for privacy and other reasons.

The government may also impose criminal penalties on people with mild or no symptoms who leave their homes or other treatment locations during their recuperation, the officials said.

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