The bill seeks to repeal and replace the existing Quarantine Act. It will empower the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (“NCDC”), particularly the Director-General of the NCDC (“D-G of the NCDC”) to take more proactive steps in preventing and responding to outbreaks of infectious disease.
Some of the major changes 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 an 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 or 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 that the owner/occupier of any premises or vessel 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 premises that may lead to an outbreak;
- 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 an infection;
- The D-G of the NCDC may 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 an infectious diseases in the premises. Such premises may be destroyed order of court to prevent further infection.
The proposed bill also empowers the D-G of the NCDC to make written orders of arrest without the need for an arrest warrant.
The bill creates a range of offences and imposes penalties and custodial sentencing for offenses with ₦100,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment for general offences. Particular offences may attract higher fines and longer custodial sentences.
The bill went through second (2nd) reading at the House of Representatives and was subsequently referred to the Committee of the Whole for further consideration.