New bill on fighting contagious diseases

Public health authorities will be able to quarantine people suspected of having contracted dangerous infectious diseases and close down public entertainment venues under draft legislation tabled yesterday in Parliament. The amendment added on to the Health Ministry’s draft bill on modernizing the state health service allows for obligatory clinical tests to be conducted on people considered capable of directly or indirectly transmitting contagious illnesses that pose a threat to public health. Disease suspects will be temporarily quarantined in a hospital or at home to prevent the risk of their spreading the disease, while ministry officials will be able to order the closure of cinemas, theaters, sports grounds, shops and other public areas. Last week, a Chinese man was hospitalized in northern Greece with suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) symptoms, in what turned out to be a false alarm.