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FNC member questions quarantining system for patients with infectious diseases

Minister pledges to enhance screening system

Gulf News

Dubai: A member of the Federal National Council questioned the screening and quarantining system for patients with infectious diseases, and demanded that the Ministry of Health and Prevention follow more effective infection control measures.

Khalid Ali Bin Zayed, a member from Dubai, told the House that patients tested positive for infectious diseases were still handed over to their sponsors, rather than quarantined, a matter that poses a great danger to public health.

Bin Zayed added the quarantining system in the UAE needed to be more effective to prevent outbreak of infectious diseases.

Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said the ministry was keen to protect the nation against outbreak of any infectious disease.

Al Owais pledged to take every measure to enhance screening and quarantining of patients having infectious diseases.

The Infectious Disease Law issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in November 2014 authorised the Ministry of Health and Prevention to introduce tough quarantining regulations.

The legislation gave authorities the power to isolate schools, sports clubs, cinema theatres and other places of entertainment as well as any other locations where there was a danger of infectious disease spreading to a large number of people.

The law, which also entitled authorities to introduce tough quarantining regulations, states that a person who knowingly exposes another to a communicable disease can face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to Dh100,000 or both for failing to comply with control measures.

Under the law, a communicable disease is defined as an illness that occurs through transmission of an infectious agent or its toxic products from a reservoir to a susceptible host, either directly or indirectly.

The law requires reporting within 24 hours to the health authorities by physicians, medical technicians and chemists after their first professional encounter with persons known or suspected to be infected with certain diseases, including anthrax, cholera, avian influenza, HIV/Aids, hepatitis (A, E) and tuberculosis (pulmonary and extra-pulmonary), among others.

Leprosy, malaria, measles, meningitis, plague and smallpox are also among a list of nearly 30 diseases that have to be reported within 24 hours.