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New South Wales Government Gives Police Right To Detain People Over SARS

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posted on Apr, 22 2003 @ 08:58 PM

Last Update: Wednesday, April 23, 2003. 11:05am (AEST)

NSW gives police right to detain people over SARS.

NSW stiffens SARS measures
The New South Wales Government has moved to give health authorities greater powers to detain and test people suspected of carrying the potentially deadly SARS virus.

Premier Bob Carr says the Government has listed severe acute respiratory syndrome under the Public Health Act.

That enables officials to enlist the help of police if people refuse to cooperate with quarantine and testing procedures.

Leading SARS doctors have warned that an outbreak in Australia could trigger the health system's collapse due to the strain on hospital beds.

Mr Carr will today detail how the state's hospitals are preparing to deal with a potential outbreak.

While 31 people in New South Wales have been tested for SARS and one person remains under investigation, there are no known cases in the state.

The Health Department's infectious diseases expert, Jeremy McAnulty, says forcing a suspected SARS patient into treatment would be a last resort.

"We try not to force anybody and so we do it by explaining the reasons why it's important that they go into treatment or go into isolation, and that almost always works," he said.

"It's very rare that we need to use the Public Health Act to actually coerce people to do something.

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