‘Police in the UK have been given the power to seize people in danger of spreading coronavirus and force them into isolation in handcuffs, the government announced today.
A new law was hurriedly brought into force after a patient staying at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral reportedly tried to leave before completing the 14-day stay after his return from China.
Government sources said those who returned to the UK on the evacuation flights on January 31 were given a ‘very clear choice’ and had to sign contracts saying they would remain in isolation for a fortnight.
But a source involved with the Arrowe Park incident said: ‘We found we didn’t have the necessary enforcement powers to make sure they didn’t leave.’
Police will now be able to force people to remain in the units and, if they leave, to arrest them for committing an offence and take them back to the quarantine facility, MailOnline understands.
And they will also be allowed to hunt down and capture people if they ‘may be infected or contaminated [and] could present a risk to public health’.
This extraordinary power comes after footage from China showed a team of around a dozen security officials chasing a suspected coronavirus patient through the streets in a bid to catch them.
England today announced its fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth cases of the virus in Brighton – all of the three men and a woman are linked to the fourth patient, who has now been dubbed a ‘super-spreader’.
The fourth patient was a businessman who returned to the UK from a conference in Singapore via a ski chalet in France, where other Britons were subsequently taken ill with the virus.
The Department of Health today declared the outbreak a ‘serious and imminent’ threat to the British public as it announced new powers to fight the spread.’
Read more: Police ‘wearing hazmat suits’ will be able to handcuff suspected coronavirus patients and force them back into quarantine: Tough new laws after a patient tried to ‘break out’ from Arrowe Park and total UK infected doubles to eight