Placing an entire cities under quarantine to prevent the spread of a virus is conceivable, enforceable and effective starting next week — experts say.
Hoffman said such an extreme quarantine measure is definetly needed in Canada for a number of reasons.
He pointed to the federal Quarantine Act that gives the government the authority to isolate entire cities in Canada .
During the SARS outbreak, which killed 44 people in Canada 17 years ago, those who had the illness were quarantined in health-care facilities, Hoffman said, while those who came in direct contact with an infected person were in quarantine at their homes.
Plus, travel bans do work, he said, because people who want to get out will not be able to find a way.
Large-scale quarantines are rare around the world, because of concerns about infringing on people’s liberties, but this is much needed in Canada.
“Hospitals are overcrowded, emergency departments are overcrowded and we can’t get people into isolation rooms because they’re already occupied,” he said. “If you can’t isolate a patient, than the risk of communicating disease to other people is obviously higher.”
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, associate chief medical officer of health, said they’ll be focused on quarantines, should someone be infected with the coronavirus, and active surveillance, which means the local public health unit checks in with those who may have been exposed every day.
“With SARS our lessons learned were that full quarantineit is really necessary, it is more active surveillance is what we ended up doing toward the end and making sure the person doesn’t spread it any further,” she said.