As the United Kingdom struggles to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulation 2020 has been published on the government website. The regulation allows the forced quarantine of those suspected to have COVID-19. If the suspect or patient resists the quarantine, they may face a £1,000 fine or jail time. Those above the age of 70 will also be required to self-isolate. Prison Officers Association General Secretary, Steve Gillan, also discussed the possibility of early release for some prisoners to relieve the pressure on prisons.

With 35 people dead by Monday morning, the government has made the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulation 2020 public. The regulation provides special power to the police to use reasonable force to quarantine anyone suspected of being infected by the novel coronavirus.

The suspected patients have to sign a consent form allowing the National Health Service to conduct throat swabs, nose swabs, and blood tests to check for the viral infection. Apart from being tested, the individual will have to remain in quarantine for 14 days even if the tests are negative.

If an individual refuses to give consent or tries to escape quarantine, they may be taken into custody before being returned to quarantine. They may also face criminal charges with a fine of £1,000 or a short prison sentence.

It is expected that the government will announce the new regulations to check the spread of the virus sometime this week. Apart from the special powers granted to the police, the government may also announce the compulsory self-quarantine for those over the age of 70.

Patients who have not recovered from the virus are either of advanced age or have other medical conditions. To ensure the safety of the elderly, the government may impose a self-isolation period of up to four months even in the absence of symptoms.

The Mirror reported that the pressure on the prison system has increased due to the pandemic. Gillan spoke about the "unprecedented" impact of the novel coronavirus on the prisoners and prison staff. Even though the government is not ready to give an early release to prisoners yet, it might soon be on the cards. Gillan stated that those prisoners released would be low-risk offenders nearing the end of their incarceration.

Italy COVID-19 crisis
The virus has infected more than 100 countries Photo: AFP / Luis ACOSTA