In early February of 2020, attention was drawn to the increased number of deaths and the new cases of coronavirus infection. The epicentre of the outbreak was Wuhan in the People’s Republic of China. In order to control the outbreak, Chinese leaders called on the city authorities in Wuhan to set up mass quarantine centres for infected people. The Chinese government took this step to protect the public against infectious disease. This is an example of the conflicts between public health and civil liberties/individual rights. Government authority is the pillar of the public health law. The government retains the power to achieve and maintain common good by restricting – within solid international and national limits – individual rights concerning autonomy, privacy, association, and liberty. Public health agencies have the right to collect, use, and disclose a considerable amount of personal health information and to enforce certain vaccinations, medical examinations, and treatments. In addition to the power to isolate individuals to protect the public against the spread of infectious disease, their powers can be used to control businesses and professions. There are several legal interventions to prevent injury and disease and promote the public’s health. Among these tools are taxing policies, which encourage engaging in beneficial behaviour (fruit consumption) and disincentives to engage in high-risk activities (smoking).
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