Health Minister warns deliberate COVID-19 spreaders may face life in prison
Those who deliberately spread COVID-19 to healthcare workers, or threaten to do so, face steep penalties including jail time.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt today announced new measures to protect healthcare workers, and warned those who deliberately spread coronavirus face the possibility of life in prison.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Hunt revealed two people in the ACT have already been charged for threatening to spread the virus.
“We have seen some very troubling cases of people who have either assaulted or threatened healthcare workers, whether it’s verbally, or by coughing on them, or by threatening to transmit the virus,” he said.
Mr Hunt read out the following legal advice from the Attorney-General’s department:
“The deliberate transmission of COVID-19 is an offence under the general criminal laws that apply in every state and territory. The most serious of these offences may carry maximum penalties up to imprisonment for life, if somebody were to take a step which led to the death of a healthcare worker, if that were a deliberate transmission.
“Those same state and territory criminal laws also make it an offence to cause someone else to fear that they are having transmitted to them, the virus.”
“I want to emphasise respect,” Mr Hunt said.
“These are our heroes.”