The British government has declared coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat” to public health and have announced new powers to fight its spread.
People can now be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave under the new Department of Health measures. They can also be forcibly sent into isolation if they pose a threat to public health.
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The BBC reports: On Monday, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced new regulations in England as “the transmission of coronavirus would constitute a serious threat”.
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Under the Department of Health measures people will not be free to leave quarantine, and can be forcibly sent into isolation if they pose a threat.
Arrowe Park Hospital, on the Wirral, and Kents Hill Park conference centre, in Milton Keynes, have been designated as “isolation” facilities in the UK.
Evacuees from Wuhan who travelled to the UK on two flights chartered by the Foreign Office are currently in quarantine at the locations.
The BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson said the measures were announced because a passenger on the first UK flight from Wuhan, who is currently being held in quarantine on the Wirral, “is threatening to abscond” despite signing a contract agreeing to the isolation period.
He said the regulations were brought in “to try and compel him to stay put”.
A statement on the Department of Health website said “incidence or transmission of novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health”.
On Twitter, the department added that the announcement on the coronavirus threat was “a legal term… as part of changes to make it easier for health professionals to do their job”.
A government spokesman said: “We are strengthening our regulations so we can keep individuals in supported isolation for their own safety and if public health professionals consider they may be at risk of spreading the virus to other members of the public.”