Saturday, March 6, 2021

Senate Opens Book On 96-year-old Quarantine Act, Considers Repealing It

The Senate yesterday considered a critical bill that would see to the eventual repeal of the obsolete Quarantine Act enacted in 1926, and help Nigeria deal with any impending outbreak of infectious and contagious diseases in the future.

The Health Emergency Bill, 2021, which scaled Second Reading on the floor during plenary, also does not make it mandatory for any Nigerian to be subjected to forced immunisation under the proposed legislation.

Sponsor of the bill, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), said the piece of legislation under consideration was informed by the challenges that confronted the nation regarding the coordination of national response measures to combat the dreadful coronavirus crisis.

According to the lawmaker, the Executive in an attempt to scale the loopholes created as a result of the extant archaic Quarantine legislation was compelled “to embark on a litany of subsidiary legislations to deal with certain exigencies” at the time.

Utazi stated that the Health Emergency Bill, when passed and signed into law, would establish an updated comprehensive legal and administrative framework for handling outbreaks of infectious and contagious diseases that portends major threat to public health safety within Nigeria or are likely to be transmitted into Nigeria or outside Nigerian borders if quarantine or other emergency health measures are not taken by appropriate authorities to control spread or infection rate.

He, specifically, emphasised that the Bill provides the legal and institutional framework for imposition and implementation of mandatory seIf-isolation and quarantine of infected persons, the introduction of movement restrictions, and adoption of appropriate safety and welfare measures at or during the outbreak of dangerous contagious diseases.

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