Meaning of Quarantine

What is Quarantine:

Quarantine is a period in which the isolation of people who may have contracted a disease but are not yet showing symptoms is sought. It also applies to healthy people or communities that you want to protect from possible contagion.

Quarantines are applied voluntarily or with the intervention of the authorities to prevent the spread of disease. An example in recent history is COVID-19 or coronavirus, a respiratory virus discovered in 2019 that became a pandemic in 2020.

Quarantine comes from Latin quadraginta and refers to a period of forty days, which was the time of isolation to which those suspected of having contracted the Black Death in the fourteenth century were subjected.

The reason for this is that forty days was believed to be the time when the disease manifested itself. If the person completed the isolation period without presenting any symptoms, they could return to their routines.

Today, the term quarantine only refers to the practice of isolation, but not to its duration. However, the forty days are still applied in medical protocols, as do the 80-day quarantines for the most serious cases.

Therefore, quarantines can last as long as health personnel or authorities consider necessary to prevent the spread of an epidemic.

On the other hand, there is also animal quarantine. In these cases, what is sought is to avoid the spread of a disease not only for the protection of healthy animals, but also that of human beings.

See also Pandemic.

Voluntary quarantine

It is a protective measure for a healthy person who isolates himself from the outside world to avoid the spread of a disease. Voluntary quarantine is also called social distancing or voluntary isolation and usually lasts 14-15 days.

Some of the protection measures are:

  • Do not share a room, clothes or utensils with other people.
  • Keep the house or room ventilated.
  • Be attentive to your health status and notify health personnel if you have any symptoms.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid physical contact.

See also Social distancing.

General quarantine

It implies the isolation of large groups of people (communities, cities, countries) and requires the closure or restriction of activities that generate crowds (shopping centers, restaurants, public events, etc.).

In general, the duration and terms of this type of quarantine are decided by the local authority following recommendations from health personnel, and measures such as:

  • Total or partial restriction of movements in a specific territory.
  • Allow commercial activity only in essential areas: food and health.
  • Limit all or part of public transport.
  • Use of public force to enforce the quarantine terms.

See also Curfew.

Hospital quarantine

It is the protocol that an infected patient who is already admitted to a health center must comply with. The measures to be implemented will vary depending on the disease, but in general terms it is usually suggested:

  • Placement of the patient in a special room or area.
  • Total or partial restriction of visits.
  • Regular clinical tests to monitor the disease.
  • Inspection of the immediate environment of the patient to rule out new infections.

See also Epidemic.

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