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State insists it has powers to deal with crisis

THE Government has "sufficient" legal powers to deal with a full-blown pandemic, but will move quickly if emergency laws are needed to protect public health.

As Ireland last night confirmed its first probable case of swine flu, the Department of Health insisted it had extensive powers to introduce regulations to curb the spread of infections disease such as influenza and SARS.

The Government is satisfied it has all the powers it needs to introduce controls, should they be required, such as compulsory vaccination, quarantine, travel bans and involuntary hospital admission.

"We do not believe that any other powers are needed in the current circumstances or for the foreseeable future," a spokesperson from the department said. "However, it is always the case that if future legal powers are needed, the Government will act quickly."

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