The bill seeks to repeal and replace the existing Quarantine Act and aims to empower the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (the “NCDC”), particularly the Director -General of the NCDC (the “D-G of the NCDC”) to take more proactive in preventing/responding to an infectious disease outbreak.
The bill empowers the D-G of the NCDC to make written orders of arrest without the need for an arrest warrant and creates a range of offences and imposes penalties/custodial sentencing for many of offenses with ₦100,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment for general offences. Some offences may attract higher fines and custodial sentencing.
Some of the major proposals contained in the bill are as follows:
- medical practitioners and others of a prescribed class, who suspect that any person treated by them is suffering from a prescribed infectious disease must notify the D-G of the NCDC within the prescribed time;
- the D-G of the NCDC may institute public health surveillance programmes/undertake epidemiological investigations or surveys in order to determine the existence of a possible outbreak, of any infectious disease.
- The D-G of the NCDC may require, in writing, the owner/occupier of any premises or vessel to cleanse or disinfect it in the manner and within the time specified in the notice;
- The Minister of Health, by notification in the Gazette, may declare any premises to be an isolation area;
- The D-G of the NCDC may order closure, disinfection and marking of any premise that may lead to an outbreak or where someone has been infected;
- The D-G of the NCDC may stop any meeting, gathering or entertainment
- From holding for a period of fourteen(14) days if he believes this will prevent the spread of the infection;
- The D-G of the NCDC to prohibit any person who is a carrier of an infectious disease from carrying on any occupation, trade or business that is likely to cause the spread of any infectious disease; and
- Enforcement officers appointed by the D-G of the NCDC may order that premises be marked for the purpose of denoting the occurrence of infectious diseases in the premises. Such premises may be destroyed by order of the court to prevent further infection.
The Bill went through the Second reading and was referred to the Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases.