By Kang Gahui and Lee Jihae
The Cabinet on March 3 passed three laws on the novel coronavirus in response to the nationwide spread of COVID-19.
The laws were promulgated in accordance with Article 53 of the Constitution.
President Moon Jae-in chaired an expanded meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters that was also the ninth Cabinet meeting.
Passed on Feb. 26 by a plenary session of the National Assembly, the laws comprise amendments on the prevention and management of infectious disease and quarantine and medical laws.
The amendments allow the testing, quarantine and treatment of those suspected to have an infectious disease. Those who refuse testing will face prosecution. A ban on the export or transfer of masks or other items can also be imposed to contain the disease.
Under the revised quarantine law, the health and welfare minister can request a ban on the entry of confirmed or suspected patients and those entering or transferring from places where an epidemic broke out. The new medical law stipulates the setup and operation of a monitoring system to prevent infections among patients, guardians and medical staff.
Deputy Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Yoon Jae-kwan said in a written statement, "Once these laws take effect, we expect our ability to respond to an epidemic to be strengthened at the national level, as quarantine and medical systems will be boosted to prevent a new infectious disease from entering the country."