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Times of pestilence : would a Bill of Rights assist Australian citizens who are quarantined in the event of an Avian influenza (bird flu) pandemic?
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Scott GuyScott Guy, B Hocking
The World Health Organisation has ‘warned that in the twenty-first century, infectious diseases pose a more deadly threat to humankind than war’ (cited in Moore 2001:2). It has been further predicted that with the onset of the ‘rogue diseases of the twenty-first century’ we may, indeed, ‘be standing on the brink of an unprecedented and devastating combination of the two biological warfare’ (Moore 2001:6). Concerns regarding avian influenza, in particular, have raised the spectre of a re-occurrence of the influenza epidemic to rival those epidemics which took place in 1918, 1957, and 1968. While fears of the threat surfaced only periodically during the deliberations over the terrorist threats to Australia, the recent efforts on the part of then federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, have finally galvanised attention as to the likelihood of a pandemic in Australia and the most appropriate responses to the threat and produced the Pandemic Disease Management Plan in 2005. There has been a series of major disease outbreaks in recent years and these have ranged from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Canada, Hong Kong and China to the animal-only footand- mouth disease in the United Kingdom (Matthews & Woolhouse 2005:536). Of these, indeed, it is arguable that SARS would seem to provide the closest approximation or parallel to the avian flu pandemic (although there are some key differences in terms of the transmissibility of the two diseases which would seem to affect or impact on the development of appropriate legal responses).