• The Labour Co. Team

High court rules Covid-19 patients cannot be forced into state quarantine

A 300-bed quarantine site has been opened up on Old Mutual premises in Pinelands in Cape Town. (Jan Ras, News24)

  • People who have tested positive for Covid-19 cannot be forced to quarantine at a state facility if they are able to self-quarantine.

  • To successfully self-quarantine, the person must have access to a separate room, which must not be shared with anyone else. 

  • People who are suspected of contracting the virus may also not be forced to isolate at a state facility if they are able to successfully self-isolate.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ordered that any person who has tested positive for Covid-19 cannot be forced to quarantine be or isolated at a state facility if that person is able to successfully self-quarantine. The order, which was handed down on Wednesday, follows an agreement between AfriForum and the Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. AfriForum's legal representative Willie Spies told News24 the order was granted and made an order of court by consent of the Cogta minister. AfriForum originally brought an urgent application to challenge the legality of Level 4 regulations, which stated that no person who has tested positive for Covid-19, or is suspected of having contracted the virus, or been in contact with a carrier, may refuse to be admitted to a health establishment or quarantine or isolation facility. These regulations were promulgated and published on 29 April. AfriForum, who labelled the specific regulations as draconian and irrational, said it was aimed at putting everyone who tested positive for Covid-19 under compulsory state quarantine. According to the order, the regulations dealing with quarantine and isolation would be interpreted and applied as follows: "A person who has been confirmed as a clinical case, or as a laboratory confirmed case as having contracted Covid-19, or who is suspected of having contracted Covid-19, is only required to be quarantined or isolated at a state 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." Additionally, the order also explains that to successfully self-quarantine or self-isolate, a person requires access to a separate room, where the person should self-isolate and that no one else should 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."

In a statement, the head of campaigns at AfriForum, Monique Taute, said it was important to oppose autocratic and irrational decisions by the government during this lockdown.

"When the government abuses its power and tries to bully the public by violating people's rights, AfriForum will stand up against it – to the benefit of everyone in the country," Taute said.

Alex Mitchley

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