Month: February 2020

Powers to detain, test and isolate the infected or those suspected of infection.

if the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant has reasonable grounds to believe that a person (P) is, or may be, infected or contaminated with Coronavirus; and if the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant considers that there is a risk that P might infect or contaminate others, then there is power under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 for the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant , for the purposes of screening, assessment and the imposition of any restrictions or requirements under regulation 5, to detain P until the later of (a)the end of the period of 48 hours beginning with the time from which P’s detention under this regulation begins or (b) such time as any screening requirements imposed on or in relation to P under regulation 5(1) have been complied with and the assessment referred to in that regulation carried out in relation to P.

The Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant may (a)(orally or in writing) impose on or in relation to P one or more screening requirements to inform an assessment, by the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant, of whether P presents or could present a risk of infecting or contaminating others and may )carry out such an assessment in relation to P; and once that assessment is made out, the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant may, following such an assessment, (orally or in writing) impose on P any other restriction or requirement which they consider necessary for the purposes of removing or reducing the risk of infection . (It should be noted that the restriction may only be imposed if  the restriction or requirement is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by imposing it.

During screening, P must (a) answer questions about P’s health or other relevant circumstances (including travel history and information about other individuals with whom P may have had contact), (b) produce any documents which may assist a registered public health consultant or public health officer in assessing P’s health, (c) at such time as a registered public health consultant may specify, allow a public health officer, or a medical officer, to take a biological sample of P, including a sample of P’s respiratory secretions or blood, by appropriate means including by swabbing P’s nasopharyngeal cavity, or provide such a sample; and (d) provide sufficient information to enable P to be contacted immediately by a public health officer during such period as a registered public health consultant may specify, where the registered public health consultant considers that such provision of information is necessary in order to reduce or remove the risk of P infecting or contaminating others.

The provisions cover children and if a child is concerned there is an obligation on the responsible adult to
(a)secure that P answers questions in accordance with paragraph (1)(a);
(b)answer the questions if P is unable to do so or cannot reliably do so;
(c)produce any documents, required under paragraph (1)(b), on P’s behalf;
(d)allow a public health officer, or a medical officer, to take a biological sample of P, including a sample of P’s respiratory secretions or blood, by appropriate means including by swabbing P’s nasopharyngeal cavity, or provide such a sample; and
(e)provide information where required by a public health officer.

Once screened, the Secretary of State or PHO may impose a period of quarantine up to 14 days. The PHO may also place a restriction on P’s travel, on their activities and on their contact with specified persons.

The Powers of detention, testing and assessment and isolation and quarantine also apply to groups of people. They also apply where a person P has arrived in England on an aircraft, ship or train from outside the United Kingdom, whether directly or via Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales; and (b) has left, or the Secretary of State or a registered public health consultant has reasonable grounds to believe P has left, an infected area within the 14 day period immediately preceding the date of P’s arrival in England. Initial detention for assessment is limited to 24 hours, but a constable or PHO can extend this for a further 24 hours. (time starts when you arrive at the test centre or hospital). If isolation or quarantine is then appropriate it can be done for 14 days with the possibility to extend further for more than 14 days then there are obligations to ensure P’s well-being and there are then appeal rights to the Magistrates court similar to those in respect of criminal offences in respect of bail.

Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984

There are powers which are available under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and these contain powers for the Secretary of State for Health to make provision for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in England and Wales (whether from risks originating there or elsewhere). These provisions have been available for many years. The Act permits regulations to be made imposing duties on registered medical practitioners or other persons to record and notify cases or suspected cases of infection or contamination, as well as )conferring on local authorities or other persons functions in relation to the monitoring of public health risks, and imposing or enabling the imposition of restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health. Any powers are subject to restrictions or requirements proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by imposing the requirements or restrictions.

Health protection regulations may—
(a)confer functions on local authorities and other persons;
(b)create offences;
(c)enable a court to order a person convicted of any such offence to take or pay for remedial action in appropriate circumstances;
(d)provide for the execution and enforcement of restrictions and requirements imposed by or under the regulations;
(e)provide for appeals from and reviews of decisions taken under the regulations;
(f)permit or prohibit the levy of charges;
(g)permit or require the payment of incentive payments, compensation and expenses;
(h)provide for the resolution of disputes.
The Act provides for the creation of health offences which carry fines up to £100 per day.