Over 5,000 people have been arrested in China for epidemic related crimes since January for alleged killing of health workers, selling defective medical equipment and lying about their travel history, said the state prosecutor’s office.
One epidemic related crimes case involved a shopper that beat to death another customer who reminded him to wear a mask in a supermarket.
Other cases of the epidemic related crimes included a person who deliberately mowed down medical workers with a car, and another was arrested for stabbing a health inspector with a dagger when monitoring temperatures.
Some have also been accused of embezzling money collected from fundraisers to help coronavirus patients, selling defective medical equipment and lying about their travel history or health condition.
“From January to July, 5,797 people were arrested and 6,755 were prosecuted,” the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said in a statement Thursday.
The statement did not specify how many people were still in detention or whether some had already been sentenced.
China has largely brought the spread of the novel coronavirus under control — since it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in December 2019 — with strict lockdowns, aggressive contact tracing and close monitoring of neighbourhoods.
Previously, The High People’s Court of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province published an urgent notice on its website on Friday, saying it would severely punish 36 crimes related to the prevention and control of the epidemic in accordance with the law, in which violators could face the death penalty.
The country has also deployed a range of smartphone apps to track the whereabouts of people to quickly identify possible cases of the epidemic related crimes. Wearing a mask is mandatory in supermarkets, cinemas or on public transport, and many choose to wear one while outdoors as well, as a safeguard against the virus. China has not reported any locally transmitted infections in recent days.