Govt can't compel COVID-19 positive people into state quarantine facilities: South African court

Fakir Hassen

Johannesburg, Jun 4 (PTI) A South African high court has ruled that the government cannot compel people who test positive for the novel coronavirus into state quarantine facilities if they can isolate themselves at home.

The high court in Pretoria on Wednesday ordered a change to the regulations to allow for such compulsory state quarantine only if an affected person is unable to do so at his or her home.

This is the second legal blow to the government's plans to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.

On Tuesday, the high court in a separate ruling said some of the regulations of the national lockdown, now in its 68th day, infringed on the constitutional rights of citizens.

The Wednesday court ruling followed an action by a lobby organisation, AfriForum, which argued that the regulations giving the state the power to compel anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 to go into compulsory state quarantine infringed their constitutional rights.

“(The regulations) are to be applied and interpreted as follows: A person who has been confirmed, as a clinical case or a laboratory-confirmed case as having contracted COVID-19, or is suspected of having contracted COVID-19, or who has been in contact with a person who is a carrier of COVID-19; is only required to be quarantined or isolated at a state facility COVID-19 facility or other designated quarantine site; when that person is unable to self-quarantine or self-isolate; or refuses to do so or violates the self-quarantine or self-isolation rules,” the high court ruled.

The court has also set conditions for self-isolation or self-quarantine.

“To successfully self-quarantine or self-isolate, a person requires access to a separate room where the person should self-isolate (no one else must sleep or spend time in that room). The person must also be able to contact and/or return to a health facility if their condition worsens,” the court said in its order.

According to latest figures, there are 35,812 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa, with 17,291 recoveries and 705 deaths, so far. PTI FH ANB ANB