Canada: New political powers to quarantine, invoke other measures, may be tested in flu outbreak

Canada: New political powers to quarantine, invoke other measures, may be tested in flu outbreak –The top health official can now quarantine the ill, interview anyone who has been in contact with a sick person and do anything else that could help prevent the spread of a virus. 02 Aug 2009 A resurgence of swine flu anticipated this fall could test new provincial powers that include being able to place sick people under quarantine in their homes and shut down schools. If Arlene King, Ontario’s chief medical health officer, believes people’s health is at risk, she has the power to “investigate the situation and take such action as he or she considers appropriate to prevent, eliminate or decrease the risk.” That could include closing schools, isolating the ill and forcing others to undergo medical exams. British Columbia brought in a new public health act last year which was described as giving health officials “stronger powers to protect the public against communicable diseases such as pandemic influenza.” Under the new act, the province can order vaccinations or examinations and quarantine peopleHealth officials can also enforce the act using peace officers, warrants and even court orders. READ

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