People infected with tuberculosis will be suspended from working at schools, hospitals and other public places as a precaution against the disease, the health ministry said Friday.
Under the TB prevention act passed by parliament last month, people who have been diagnosed with the disease cannot stay in jobs that require them to come into close contact with large number of people on a daily basis.
"The rules will apply till the person has been treated and doctors have certified that he or she cannot transmit the TB virus to others," the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.
People with TB will also be barred from working at daycare centers and on ships and airplanes. They have already been barred from being employed in restaurants and certain hospitality businesses.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected, according to the World Health Organization.
Employers of people with contagious TB must report such incidents to local health authorities and request support to prevent the spread of the disease if needed.
The ministry said employers and people who violate the guidelines will be fined up to 10 million won ($8,600), with the changed rules set to go into effect after a six-month grace period.
South Korea has one of the highest numbers of TB cases in the world, with five people in 100,000 dying because of the illness in 2017. The figure is much higher than the global average of 0.9 person per 100,000 as tallied by the World Health Organization. (Yonhap)