Officials in the United Kingdom will introduce an emergency bill Thursday that would, among other provisions, give greater freedoms to police and immigration officers to tackle the coronavirus.
Under the proposal, officers would have the discretion to detain people and put them in isolation facilities if they are suspected of having contracted the virus. Authorities will also close ports and airports if there aren’t enough staff to maintain border security.
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“The government’s objective is to delay and flatten the peak of the epidemic by bringing forward the right measures at the right time, so that we minimise [sic] suffering and save lives” the Department of Health & Social Care said in a statement.
In addition to expanding police powers, the bill would widen the list of who can register a death to include funeral directors and allow recently retired National Health Service staff and social workers to return to work without it impacting their pensions.
The number of doctors needed to detain and treat patients with mental health issues would be also relaxed. The proposal comes as the United Kingdom continues to see a spike in coronavirus cases.
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As of Tuesday, 1,960 cases had been recorded in the U.K. and 55 people have died. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging Britons to avoid unnecessary foreign travel and contact with others.