COVID-19: MORE DRASTIC MEASURES TO DEAL WITH PROPAGATION, MAURITIUS
With 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two casualties, the Mauritian Government has decreed a national curfew starting Monday 23 March at 20h00 local time to 2 April, with more restrictions on internal traffic.
The Prevention and Mitigation of Infectious Disease (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (Regulations) supplementing the Quarantine Regulations 1953 were issued as a matter of emergency to deal with the increasing threat of wider scale propagation of the virus.
The Regulations introduce the powers to hold certain persons in isolation or in quarantine. A medical practitioner, not below the rank of Regional Public Health Superintendent, has the power to cause:
- a person infected with COVID-19 to be isolated;
- a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 to be quarantined;
- a person who arrived in Mauritius on an aircraft or ship from a high-risk country (as declared by the Prime Minister) to be quarantined;
- any person who, the medical practitioner has reasonable grounds to believe, may have had contact with a person infected with COVID-19, to be quarantined.
For the purposes of the Regulations, the Minister will designate a place of quarantine or isolation and in relation to a person, a place of quarantine may include that person’s home.
A medical practitioner has the authority to carry out screening tests on a person put in isolation or quarantine to assess whether the person presents, or could present, a risk of infecting other persons with the virus. The screening assessment requires the person to answer questions on his or her health or other relevant circumstances, produce relevant documents, allow the medical practitioner to take his or her biological sample and to provide his or her contact details.
Where he or she considers it necessary and proportionate to reduce or remove risks, the medical practitioner may impose orally or in writing any restriction or condition on or in relation to the person.
A person who has been quarantined or isolated has the right to be informed of the reason of him or her being quarantined or isolated, the powers under which he or she is quarantined or isolated, the next steps that may be taken and by whom, and the penalty for absconding or attempting to abscond, providing false or misleading information and obstructing a person in the discharge of his or her functions pursuant to the Regulations.
The Regulations have set out certain powers of the police to enable them to enforce compliance with the Regulations, which include the power to board any ship or aircraft or enter any premises without a warrant.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Minister of Health has the power:
- to declare an area to be a restricted area to control the movement and conduct of persons in any hospital, place of quarantine or isolation or any other area,
- to issue a curfew order;
- by general notice to order premises to be closed or remain closed or not to admit customers therein.