German and Australian governments have made a move to place people in government “isolation” facilities that look similar to concentration camps as they continue to ramp up the use of forced quarantine centers to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
A recent survey by a German newspaper found that at least 15 people have been taken into quarantine facilities in some of the largest cities since the beginning of the year.
The individuals, who were said to have violated home isolation requirements, include 11 from Munich, two from Stuttgart and one each from Dusseldorf and Frankfurt.
The number is likely higher, however, as cities like Berlin and Leipzig have not submitted their numbers to the paper.
Some of these quarantine facilities are located within prisons.
“Most of the federal states have closed areas in hospitals or prisons for quarantine breakers. In Eisenhuttenstadt, Brandenburg, refusals were last housed in a former deportation detention center, in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, in a Solingen clinic,” the news outlet said.
Germany has long allowed forced quarantine for people who have been suspected of having infectious diseases and refusing to submit to other isolation measures.
The German Infection Protection Act of 2000 specifically authorizes the government to put people into a locked hospital or a locked facility, stating that “the fundamental right to freedom of the person can be restricted in this respect.”
Hundreds of thousands of Germans have been subjected to domestic quarantine orders at any given time, with city authorities “checking” them if there is a specific suspicion. Officials in Stuttgart rely on “special tipsters” that include neighbors, acquaintances and relatives.
Finally, the ten largest cities in Germany also initiated more than 250 fine proceedings for violations, with fines ranging between 250 and 1,000 euros, and can run up to 25,000 euros.
Quarantined citizens treated like prisoners
In Australia, the government also took forced quarantine a step further. The country began constructing COVID-19 quarantine camps in some areas, including Victoria and the Northern Territory (NT).
Some centers have already opened. Hundreds of people who tested positive for the virus or had close contact with those who did were relocated to those centers for at least two weeks.
The police also arrested three teenagers after they escaped from a quarantine center in Darwin. The boys, ages 15, 16 and 17, were taken to the Howard Springs camp after being deemed close contacts with people who have COVID. They scaled the walls of the facility but were captured later after the police launched a manhunt and set up checkpoints in the area.
The boys, who came from a small indigenous community, were slammed at a briefing by NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner, saying there was absolutely no excuse for jumping the wall.
“Absconding from Howard Springs isn’t just dangerous — it is incredibly stupid because we will catch you and there will be consequences,” Gunner said.
Gunner, a member of the left-wing Labor Party, imposed the lockdown in Binjari and nearby Rockhole last month after reports of nine positive cases. He also banned people from leaving their homes, except in cases of medical emergencies. The NT has since reported zero COVID deaths and a few hundred cases in a population of 246,000.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also dispatched around two dozen Australian soldiers to the region at the end of November to help round up close contacts in indigenous communities and transfer them to the so-called quarantine camps.
“We have already identified 38 close contacts from Binjari, but that number will go up. Those 38 are being transferred now,” Gunner said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of households and close contacts have since been flown to Howard Springs, and over 1,300 international arrivals have completed “mandatory supervised quarantine” at the facility that can hold up to 3,000 people.
The rules for these camp detainees are also quite severe, as they are required to stay within their rooms or the small porches attached to the rooms at all times unless permitted to leave by an officer. Masks and social distancing measures are also mandatory regardless of COVID status.
“Quarantine facility staff will remind you about wearing your mask, staying on your veranda and physically distancing through information in your resident booklet, by sending you SMS reminder texts and verbally in person if we see you are not following the direction,” a facility guidance stated.
“All residents in quarantine, including all children, are tested three times during their stay on days 1, 5 and 12. These tests are a nose and throat swabs. If you do not undergo a test, you will be required to remain in quarantine a further 10 days at your own expense.”
At AU$2,500 ($1,780.5) per individual, quarantining in Australia for two weeks does not come cheap, either.