Queensland courts can order suspected Ebola sufferers into forced isolation, but the state’s health minister says that should be a last resort.
Queensland’s chief health officer has sought legal advice on the forced isolation of patients suspected of having Ebola.
Jeannette Young met with the state’s chief magistrate some weeks ago to clarify what could be done should forced isolation be required, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg told AAP.
But the spokeswoman says there’s been no need to use that provision so far, and everyone caught up in recent Ebola scares has been happy to comply with the advice of health authorities.
There are provisions in place that allow authorities to apply for a court order to force suspected Ebola sufferers into isolation.
But the minister’s spokeswoman says this is true for many public health situations, and the provision will only be used as a last resort.
“We’d have to have a very strong belief that there was a risk. The person would have to be showing signs that they were unwell,” she told AAP.
She says that to date, everyone has been happy to comply with a regime of voluntary isolation.
This includes 19 people from four African families who agreed to go into home isolation earlier this month, after travelling to Queensland from parts of west Africa ravaged by the deadly virus.
One of them, an 18-year-old woman, gave authorities a scare when she came down with a fever.
She tested negative to Ebola on Monday and will be retested on Wednesday.
All the others in isolation appear to be well.