Public Health

10.02.20

Strengthened legal powers to bolster coronavirus protections

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced strengthened legal powers to bolster protections against the coronavirus outbreak for people in England.

The regulations have been put in place by the government with immediate effect and impose restrictions on any individual considered by health professionals to be at risk of spreading the virus.

The new regulations apply to any individual seeking to leave supported isolation before the current quarantine period of 14 days is complete. It will also apply to future cases during the current coronavirus incident where an individual who may be infected or contaminated could present a risk to public health.

Today’s announcement by government does not reflect a change in risk to the UK, which remains at moderate.

Speaking about the announcement, health secretary Matt Hancock: “I will do everything in my power to keep people in this country safe. We are taking every possible step to control the outbreak of coronavirus.

“NHS staff and others will now be supported with additional legal powers to keep people safe across the country. The transmission of coronavirus would constitute a serious threat - so I am taking action to protect the public and isolate those at risk of spreading the virus.

“Clinical advice has not changed about the risk to the public, which remains moderate. We are taking a belt and braces approach to all necessary precautions to ensure public safety.

“Our infection control procedures are world leading – what I am announcing today further strengthens our response.”

The regulations have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission in this country.

The strengthened powers, effective immediately, will ensure that NHS staff dealing with possible cases can be confident the necessary powers are in place to keep individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.

These strengthened powers are in line with measures currently being taken by other countries affected in the current outbreak.

Photo credit: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto/PA Images

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