Government considers role of technology in enforcing quarantine

Written by Sam Trendall on 24 February 2021 in News

Minister says mandating isolation is ‘right course of action’

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The minister for patient safety Nadine Dorries has said that government is considering the potential use of technology in enforcing quarantine for new arrivals in the UK.

Asked in a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Ben Bradshaw whether the government plans to use “GPS tracking technology” to ensure people are abiding by quarantine rules, Dorries did not directly answer. But she indicated that using tech as means of both monitoring and support is under consideration.

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“We continue to look at the role that technology can play in ensuring arrivals are quarantining and to provide them with support through their quarantine period,” she said. “Due to the increased risk of new variants entering the United Kingdom, introducing managed quarantine facilities for ‘red list’ arrivals and home quarantine with mandatory testing for other arrivals is the right course of action to take now to safeguard public health and the vaccine programme.”

Bradshaw’s question was posed in light of government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies suggesting that “electronic monitoring” could replace or complement the current model of enforced hotel stays for new arrivals.

Since the start of the pandemic, a number of countries have tested or implemented forms of technological surveillance to monitor enforce quarantine or stay-at-home orders. These include mobile phone-based GPS, or specially distributed wristbands or ankle bracelets.

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology


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