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What are my rights following the COVID pandemic?

I doubt that spreading the common cold could land you in trouble, however, the recklessly spreading of communicable diseases like COVID, SARS, and others, may land you in some serious trouble. Many countries, including South Africa, have a general law for reckless endangerment

According to an online legal publication, “intentional or reckless behavior that spreads a disease with serious public health consequences—such as HIV, SARS, Ebola, or COVID-19—can result in criminal charges.”.

In South Africa, the government uses penalties to enforce public health interventions, like quarantines and restrictions, to limit the spread of a virus and to prevent a pandemic. Where the latter become unenforceable, culprits might be criminally prosecuted.

Let’s explore this a bit more…….

Many countries like the USA have specific laws pertaining to the deliberate and intentional spreading of a dreaded disease. Other countries use existing laws like assault, reckless endangerment, manslaughter, and even attempted murder.

The Corona Virus pandemic has opened the door for criminal

 prosecution in South Africa with regards to persons 

knowingly and intentionally spreading an infectious disease.

Recently, in 2020, a Salon owner in Ladysmith was arrested 

and charged with attempted murder. The salon owner tested

positive for the COVID-19 virus, yet refused to go into 

quarantine and subsequently exposed 27 other patrons.

A recent article by Professor Salim Abdool Karim suggests that:

These cases are the first criminal cases related to the COVID19

 outbreak, and at present they are based solely on the accused

 exposing people to the virus. It is debatable whether mere exposure to a virus is currently criminalised under South African (SA) law, as some have argued that the S v Phiri case has criminalised exposure to HIV.[3,4] However, if those who were exposed to the virus become infected, the conduct of the accused may amount to a crime, because intentionally infecting someone with a virus currently constitutes a crime under SA law. In 2005, SA became one of 68 countries that criminalise HIV transmission, when the intentional transmission of HIV was found to constitute attempted murder.[5,6] A number of countries criminalised HIV transmission through the introduction of HIV-specific laws. The scope of these laws varies significantly. For example, the Zimbabwean criminal code criminalises both transmission and conduct that involves a ‘real risk’ of transmission.[7] In contrast, many of the statelevel laws adopted in the USA criminalise exposure unless an HIVpositive individual discloses their status to their partner, while other states criminalise low-risk conduct such as biting and spitting.[8] SA courts opted to follow an approach similar to the finding by Canadian courts that infecting someone with HIV would constitute assault, but used the crime of attempted murder. This means that the offences are not limited to transmission of HIV.”.

In conclusion, if you know your COVID, EBOLA, or any other transmittable disease status, take care of yourself and loved ones around you, or else….. the law will take care of you. ☺

Further reading:

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