Opposition grows to U.S. flu-fighting plan

April 26, 2006

Airlines, health experts and rights advocates say a U.S. plan to detain sick airline and ship passengers would be costly and violate privacy, a report said.

A coalition of groups urged the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reconsider the proposal to require airlines and cruise ships to collect passengers' personal information and quarantine those who are ill to fight a potential flu pandemic.

"What they're proposing is nonsensical," Tara O'Toole of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity told USA Today. "People are going to be contagious without being symptomatic."

The International Air Transport Association said airlines can't afford to set up huge databases to turn over information to the CDC on 12 hours notice.

The CDC estimates the plan would cost the airline industry $100 million.

Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union said the CDC should drop the idea he says would give the government "free pass" to detain people.

"We couldn't do this to a criminal," Steinhardt said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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