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This article does not advance arguments regarding the efficacy or circumstances under which governments should exercise personal control measures such as quarantine or isolation. A literature on this aspect of SARS disease control strategies is just starting to develop more fully. Instead, we highlight the legal aspects of personal control measures employed against SARS in order to emphasize the importance of understanding public health law's role in authorizing and constraining disease control strategies, as well as the importance of legal preparedness in nations governed under the rule of law. In the contemporary international environment, one nation's failure in legal preparedness can affect global public health and, simultaneously, damage perceptions of that nation's ability to engage in cooperative disease control efforts and commitment to the protection of domestic civil rights. For example, China's State Secrets Law reportedly prohibited local officials from publicizing an outbreak in advance of the Ministry of Health in Beijing; and considerable delay attended the drafting and passing of China's SARS control legislation.


Reproduced with the permission of Temple Law Review Volume 77. Copyright 2004, Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.

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77 Temp. L. Rev. 155-174 (2004)