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On 02.02.2023, the House of Representatives will vote on the bill to amend the Public Health Act.

If this bill is approved, the Minister of Health together with the Minister of Interior Affairs, as well as the presidents of all the security regions will have absolute powers in case of an epidemic of an infectious disease of category A1, A2, B1 and B2.

The categories referred to are described in the existing law. Category A covers the following diseases : Covid19, Mers coronavirus, smallpox, polio, Sars, viral haemorrhagic fever.

In case of an outbreak of any of these diseases, legal measures may be taken such as forced admission to isolation or home isolation, forced examination and testing, forced quarantine ( under medical supervision if necessary ) and prohibition of work or professional practice.

Category B1 applies to monkeypox, human infection with animal influenza virus, diphtheria, plague, rabies and Tuberculosis.

In the event of an outbreak of any of these diseases, the same measures may be imposed as those provided for category A, except compulsory quarantine.

Category B2 concerns cholera, hepatitis A, B and C, whooping cough, measles, rubella, paratyphoid fever, shigellosis, group A streptococcal infection, Eschericia and food poisoning if detected in at least 2 persons.

In case of an outbreak of any of these diseases, legal measures may also be taken.

All these categories are subject to a reporting requirement at the risk of a fine and even prosecution.

So, de facto, the health minister can put the country in a stranglehold on any disease that catches a handful of people. How on earth has the world survived all these centuries without legal measures ? Very peculiar but yet not so, is that neither the existing law nor the bill defines the concepts of "state of emergency" and "outbreak", which means that their assessment is left to the free interpretation of the minister in charge, who can go either way without the requirement of any prior debate or democratic vote. These terms are also not defined in the Belgian, French and German " pandemic law ". This, of course, is not an oversight or carelessness but a calculated omission aimed at giving a free hand to a few who decide on the fate of millions of citizens and the economy.

It is, to say the least, worrying, that the Netherlands still wants to push through a pandemic law in 2023 in order to be ready when the next outbreak arrives. In this way, it seems as if the higher-ups are convinced that there will be another serious epidemic of one or more category A or B diseases in the near future that will require a multitude of legislative measures.

To be continued, no doubt about that.

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