Kenya: Rights Group Wants State to Cover All Quarantine Costs

A human rights organisation has filed a petition seeking to have the government cater for all expenses incurred by individuals being isolated in government health facilities in relation Covid-19 pandemic.

Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) argues that those quarantined are being compelled to bear costs yet it this should be catered for by the government.

Muhuri, who have sued the Attorney General, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Inspector General of Police at the High Court in Mombasa, argues that the government should make all payments on behalf of the citizens.

The group further argues that majority of people are poor and can hardly afford to feed themselves and their families let alone pay Sh2,000 per day at the isolation facilities.

"It is common knowledge that the government has received funding from the World Health Organisation towards the fight against Covid-19. It has the financial capacity to suppress the virus without forcing its citizens to pay for their upkeep once placed under mandatory quarantine," states Muhuri Chairman Khelef Khalifa in his affidavit.

The organisation wants a declaration that a local or county government is mandated to cater for all expenses related to health care and treatment of all patients in relation to the Covid-19 virus and other epidemics.

Muhuri says that Section 27 of the Public Health Act provides that in case of an epidemic and a health official concludes or is of the suspicion that an individual is infected, the local authority is mandated to inquire all costs relating to treatment throughout the isolation period.

It also argues that conditions at the health centres are alarming and may lead to spread of other infections and diseases among those who have been quarantined.

"Person's quarantined at these facilities are at a great risk of contracting Covid-19 virus due to lack of proper sanitation and implementation of the safety guidelines which will negate the purpose and reasons for isolation and quarantine," part of the petition states.

According to Muhuri, lack of sufficient measures to separate those who are infected from those who are not, may lead to increase in the spread of Covid-19 virus.

"The power of the second respondent (CS Health) to mandatory require asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 provide specimen for examination without consent raises plausible questions of infringement of rights," Muhuri argues.

The organisation also argues that it is public knowledge that quarantine and isolation facilities lack sufficient beds, food and other essentials required by the health standards within laws of the country.

The organisation also wants a declaration that those who are being forcefully quarantined or isolated without sufficient reasons prior to testing to justify their being held at the facilities should be released unconditionally.

In the meantime, the organisation wants the court to suspend payment of all general upkeep and costs being demanded from people placed under mandatory quarantine in government health facilities pending hearing and determination of the petition.

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