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By Citizen Reporter

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Covid-19 not yet declared a notifiable disease in SA

This means, by law, that nobody can be forced into quarantine or isolation.


As South African law stands, no person may be detained in a medical institution for coronavirus, as it has yet to be declared a notifiable disease. The department of health has not responded to requests for information on when, or if, this would happen. Regulation 15 of the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions, promulgated on 15 December 2017, deals with “mandatory medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine, and provides that the head of a provincial department of health must apply for a high court order if a person who is a clinical or laboratory confirmed case,…

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As South African law stands, no person may be detained in a medical institution for coronavirus, as it has yet to be declared a notifiable disease.

The department of health has not responded to requests for information on when, or if, this would happen.

Regulation 15 of the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions, promulgated on 15 December 2017, deals with “mandatory medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine, and provides that the head of a provincial department of health must apply for a high court order if a person who is a clinical or laboratory confirmed case, carrier or contact of a notifiable medical condition refuses consent for medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine”.

“Protections are put in place to prevent court orders under this section being sought unnecessarily.”

Among the up to 50 notifiable medical conditions is Middle East respiratory syndrome, which is related to the coronavirus.

Declaring Covid-19 a notifiable disease is relatively easy.

The minister may declare, by notice in the Government Gazette, a medical condition not listed as notifiable if, in his or her opinion, it poses a public health risk; has the potential for regional or international spread; and that may require immediate, appropriate and specific action to be taken by the national department, one or more provincial departments, or one or more municipalities.

The World Health Organisation has also not declared the disease notifiable.

However, countries should only use quarantine against the deadly new coronavirus when really necessary and in so doing, must respect the rights of those in isolation, the UN rights chief said yesterday.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet voiced her concern about the widespread use of quarantine to attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

Additional reporting by AFP

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