Southern Australia plans quarantine camps for Indigenous, close contacts

Updated

By Jefferey Jaxen

ABC NEWS is reporting: Health authorities in South Australia are racing to organise quarantine “camps” for Aboriginal people unable to quarantine at home.

A tender issued by SA Health this week sought companies able to manage facilities in regional centres like Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Renmark and Mount Gambier in the event of an outbreak.

Australia has been open about placing its citizens in quarantine camps. Northern Territory’s chief minister, Michael Gunner made public statements recently announcing the military would be activated to help with the quarantine efforts.

In early September of this year, details of camps were announced in Australia’s Northern Territory as covered here on The HighWire:

SA’s tender document states:

“It has been identified that facilities would be required for the quarantining of persons who would otherwise be unable to home quarantine due to their living circumstances,”

ABC News is reporting the sites, which are “currently being identified”, are expected to be available from the end of November until June.

The tender said only contractors who could take control of and prepare the facilities with 24 to 48 hours notice would be considered. The tender process opened on Monday and will close on Friday.

Although the idea of relocating individuals to camps is ethically and historically controversial, the action becomes more questionable when targeting indigenous populations.

Under the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 7 states “They must be free from genocide and other acts of violence including the removal of their children by force.” Article 10 states “Indigenous peoples shall not be removed from their land by force. Where they agree, they should be provided compensation, and, where possible, have the possibility to return.” And Article 19 states, “Governments shall consult properly with Indigenous peoples before adopting laws and policies that may affect them. They must use the principles of free, prior and informed consent – which means giving Indigenous peoples all the facts needed to make decisions.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, many are becoming concerned at language coming out of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A July document outlining what the agency is calling the ‘Shielding Approach’ was highly publicized at the time. The guidance document stated its purpose was to focus on “camps, displaced populations and low-resource settings.” It further stated that it aimed to “highlight potential implementation challenges of the shielding approach from CDC’s perspective and guide thinking around implementation.”

Of particular note are the CDC document’s directive stating:

High-risk individuals would be temporarily relocated to safe or “green zones” established at the household, neighborhood, camp/sector or community level depending on the context and setting. They would have minimal contact with family members and other low-risk residents.

The document details a section titled “Camp/Sector Level” where a group of shelters would serve to physically isolated high-risk individuals together.

“One entry point is used for exchange of food, supplies, etc. A meeting area is used for residents and visitors to interact while practicing physical distancing (2 meters). No movement into or outside the green zone.” states the document.

Although no more than a guidance document at the time. Such operational directives by the agency show that those within are considering such scenarios.

Recently, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky apparently praised China for their inhuman and heavy-handed lockdown measures during COVID. “To give you a sense of what lockdowns were able to do in other countries, and I mean really strict lockdowns, in China their death rate is 3 per million.” stated Walensky.

Jefferey Jaxen

Jefferey Jaxen is a health journalist and featured in his weekly segment, ’The Jaxen Report’, on The HighWire. As an investigative journalist, researcher, and compelling writer, Jefferey serves as Lead editor of The HighWire News and Opinion Team.

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