In Vietnam and other countries, acts of spreading dangerous infectious diseases to people may be subject to criminal liability.

Liability in Vietnam’s Criminal Code 2015 specifically lists out acts that spread infectious diseases including:

  1. Bringing or allowing another entity to bring animals, plants or products thereof or other items that are likely to transmit dangerous infectious diseases to humans out of an epidemic zone;
  2. Bringing or allowing another entity to bring animals, plants or products or other products that are infected or carry dangerous pathogens likely to be transmitted to humans into Vietnam’s territory;
  3. Other acts that spread dangerous infections to humans.

Article 240, Clause 1, Sub-clause c of the Criminal Code emphasizes that other acts spreading dangerous infections to humans may constitute a crime. Currently, COVID – 19 is considered to be a dangerous infectious disease to humans, therefore a person not making a medical declaration to the competent authorities in time in case of suspicion of being infected, or hiding the disease status, etc., may be committed for criminal liability.

Accordingly, depending on the extent of the damage, or the ability to spread disease, offenders shall be liable to the following penalties:

  1. A fine of from VND 50,000,000 to VND 200,000,000 or imprisonment of one to five years in case of i, ii, iii above.
  2. Imprisonment of five to ten years in cases of a declaration of an epidemic by the provincial People’s Committee or the Minister of Health or resulting in the death of a person;
  3. Imprisonment of ten to twelve years in cases of a declaration of an epidemic by the Prime Minister or resulting in the death of 2 or more people.
  4. A fine of from VND 20,000,000 to VND 100,000,000 and prohibited from holding certain position or doing certain works for one to five years.

In addition, according to Article 11 of Decree No. 176/2013/ND-CP on penalties for administrative violations in the field of health, acts related to the application of anti-epidemic measures shall be fined from VND 100,000 to VND 30,000,000 based on the specific acts corresponding to the extent of damage.

Liability internationally:

  • Similarly, Act on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients with Infectious Diseases of Japan stipulates that a person who emits Class I Pathogens, etc. without good reason, thereby endangering the public, will be punished by imprisonment for life or not less than two years or by a fine of not more than 10 million yen.
  • In Korea, the Korean Act on Infectious Disease Control and Prevention amended in 2015, regarding the disease prevention measures, offenders may be penalized for specific behaviors and sentenced to imprisonment with labor for not more than two years or a fine of not more than 20 million won.
  • In China, Article 62 of China’s Communicable Disease Control Act amended in 2019, person who are fully aware that they have been infected but fail to comply with instructions by the competent authorities and have thus infected others shall be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three years, criminal detention, or a fine up to RMB 500,000.
  • In the USA, the law also has similar provisions for violations related to quarantine measures that spread infectious diseases. According to Title 42 – The Public Health and Welfare, Chapter 6A, Article 271 of US Code, an offender shall be punished by a fine of not more than US$1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

Conclusion

Dangerous acts which negatively affect humans in healthy living environment, and on the health and safety of humans, endanger the public, whatever the jurisdiction. Therefore, it is necessary to strictly impose penalties for deterrence and promote community awareness in disease prevention.


DISCLAIMER

This LBN newsletter are NOT legal advice. Readers are advised to retain a qualified lawyer, should they wish to seek legal advice. VCI Legal are certainly among those and happy to be retained, yet VCI Legal is not to be hold responsible should any reader choose to interpret/apply the regulations after reading this LBN without engaging a qualified lawyer.