Officials Must Balance Human Rights With Public Safety When Imposing Quarantine
Dozens of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived Wednesday at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta.
The passengers, who are residents of the East Coast, arrived from California to begin the two-week quarantine. None of them are showing symptoms of the disease, but tests have not been completed. Dozens of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived Wednesday, March 11 at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta. GPB’s Ellen Eldridge reports on the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Though state and federal officials have the ability to impose mandatory quarantine, the decision must carefully balance the individual's rights, said Dabney Evans, an associate professor with Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
Two human rights are in tension with the recent coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 disease: freedom of movement or the ability to move about freely and the right to health, Evans said.
"Obviously, this is an infectious disease and there's a potential for people that are infected to to spread that disease," Evans said.
Restriction on movement has to be lawful, she said.
"It has to be allowable under the law and it has to be carried out in accordance with the law," Evans said.
If isolation is deemed necessary for the public good, it should be done as a last resort, according to the World Health Organization.
A key factor in determining if the necessary protections exist when rights are restricted is that each one of the five criteria of the Siracusa Principles must be met.
"These have been employed for a variety of means, but particularly in the area of tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis," Evans said.
The Siracusa principles are:
- The restriction is provided for and carried out in accordance with the law;
- The restriction is in the interest of a legitimate objective of general interest;
- The restriction is strictly necessary in a democratic society to achieve the objective;
- There are no less intrusive and restrictive means available to reach the same objective;
- The restriction is based on scientific evidence and not drafted or imposed arbitrarily i.e. in an unreasonable or otherwise discriminatory manner.
That last one means people can't be singled out for quarantine because they are homeless, Evans said.
The first patient to arrive at the state's isolation camp at Hard Labor Creek State Park volunteered to go, GPB News previously reported.
The Cherokee County resident "was not able to isolate at their primary residence and was not in critical condition requiring any hospital admittance," the governor's office said.
Some of the Grand Princess cruise passengers may be headed to the isolation camp in Morgan County, which is closed to public access and closely monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by state law enforcement.