London, Oct 19 (IANS) People who have been askedto self-isolate through the test and trace system of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) could have their contact details shared with the police, it was announced.
In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed that police forces will have access “on a case-by-case” basis to information, enabling them to know if an individual has been told to self-isolate, Xinhua news agency reported.
People who fail to self-isolate “without reasonable justification” could have their names, address and contact details passed on to their local authority and then to the police, the DHSC’s said.
“This may lead to enforcement action being taken against you, which could include you being fined,” it added.
Currently, people in England are legally required to self-isolate if they test positive for the novel coronavirus.
Those who fail to do so face fines starting at 1,000 pounds and increasing up to 10,000 pounds for repeat offenders or serious breaches, the DHSC said.
Reacting to the development, a National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson said forces would continue to encourage “voluntary compliance” but would enforce regulations and issue fines where appropriate, the BBC reported.
“Officers will engage with individuals to establish their circumstances, using their discretion wherever it is reasonable to do so.”
Meanwhile, the Health Service Journal, a news service which covers policy and management in the NHS in England, reported that the office of England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, feared the move would put people off from being tested.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association, which represents doctors in the UK, also said the test-and-trace system needed “the full confidence of the public” to be effective.
The UK has so far reported a total of 725,292 coronavirus cases and 43,736 deaths.