News these days is filled with stories of travelers and citizens being sent to quarantine homes. Seems like, ‘Social distancing’ is the new ‘mantra’ and ‘Quarantine’ is the new reality.
Though there is widespread appreciation on Government’s efforts across the world to contain the virus but there is criticism on problems faced as a result of quarantine measures. Some school of thought find it unethical and coerced.
Is isolation different from quarantine? Well, going by the definitions, Isolation is separating sick people from healthy ones, which sounds like a good idea. As there is enough evidence that physical barriers can prevent spread of disease. For example, if you hear the news that corona virus POSITIVE patients are being quarantined, I believe that is isolation. Not quarantine!
A true quarantine is like that happened in history when the Croatian city of Dubrovnik began isolating travelers outside the city and away from all contact with locals, even the healthy ones. The separation period lasted 30 days. If you hadn’t come down with the plague by the end of that time, you could come into the city. The same is happening across the world in many cities now, China, Italy and now India to name a few. However do we have enough evidence on the effectiveness of Quarantine?
Also, Quarantine is typically in two respects more ethically problematic than isolation. It involves the confinement of individuals who might not be infected. Like, when an entire village in Sierra Leone was quarantined because any individual might have been exposed to Ebola. Secondly, it typically forces people who have not been infected to be in spatial proximity to those who have been infected, thereby increasing their chances of becoming infected, like the one happened in corona-virus-infected cruise ship.
But we can’t undermine the fact that both isolation and quarantine can be effective in protecting or restoring public health. Also, any infectious diseases can have a considerable financial cost, which needs to be factored in when weighing pros and cons of timely and effective implementation of public health measures.
When any Government has to make a decisions in conditions of uncertainty, they assess the expected benefits and harms of a certain choice (say, implementing quarantine measures) against the expected benefits and harms of a different choice (say, not implementing quarantine measures). Currently NOT implementing quarantine holds more risk than implementing it.
One need to understand the infection does not selectively affect individual hence it’s our moral duty to support the Government measures in the time of adversity to contain the virus.
Some of us are lucky be home but others have travelling jobs. One can’t even imagine the state of mind of being away from family in a quarantine home. But let’s factor in if you are infected, you can infect your loved ones too as well as all the people you come in contact with, something none of us wants, right?
But how does one cope up? How to coexist with other quarantine members when your own head is spinning hard? If you are in a city-lock down situation, be empathetic, stop stocking up the supplies more than you will need for a few weeks or so, as there is enough for everyone, if we let it be.
This is not the survival of the fittest! Instead you will survive if your neighbours do and community does!
To those who are stuck in their homes or quarantine shelters, psychologists recommends; do something you like but break the routine by doing something new, to avoid getting in the trap of boredom. Read, cook, write, talk to family (we never have time but now we do!), watch movies, listen to music, dance or catch up on that sleep. Do whatever you feel like, just try not to panic.
Let’s hope this is over soon and life can go back to normal for everyone!