A Taiwanese man penalised for breaching Covid quarantine regulations has had his fine revoked after it emerged he had been kidnapped by debt collectors.
The man, whose surname is Chen, returned from Hong Kong in late October and began his 14 days of mandatory home quarantine at a friend’s home in Nantou county. The next day, however, men identified as debt collectors arrived at the house and mistook Chen for his friend, who owed them money.
The men assaulted Chen, abducted him and took him to his own home to collect the money owed, the justice ministry said last week. He was then returned to the residence where he had been in quarantine.
It was not clear how police were alerted that he had left, but Taiwan’s quarantine system includes electronic monitoring through phone signals. Chen was arrested and fined 100,000 new Taiwan dollars (£2,600) for breaching the regulations.
The justice ministry said Chen’s explanation had been investigated and confirmed, and that his fine had been revoked because he had been forced to leave quarantine against his will.
“The violation of the quarantine regulations was not caused by his own intentional or negligent behaviour,” said Hu Tianci, a spokesman for the Changhua branch of the administrative enforcement agency.
“According to the law such behaviour should not be punished and should be referred to the health unit for withdrawal.”
It is the first time a Taiwanese government fine for a quarantine breach has been reversed. The maximum fine for breaching the strict regulations is 300,000 NTD. It was imposed last month on a pilot who flew between Taiwan and the US and traveled around Taipei while infectious, leading to the first community transmission case in more than 250 days.