As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread at alarming rates, governments across the world are taking more aggressive measures to contain it and to “flatten the curve.” By looking at Italy’s current and dire situation, governments are struggling to find ways to prevent illness and deaths as well as a similar collapse of the healthcare system. Across the US, many people are in self-quarantine or isolation. What’s the difference and why does it matter?
Because symptoms of COVID-19 usually occur within 2-14 days of exposure, many people have been put into self-quarantine without any symptoms. Whether they have returned from travel to China, Italy, or almost anywhere across the globe, or they were near a person with the virus, self-quarantine is essential to preventing further spread while a person monitors him/herself for symptoms. In many cases, an individual can test positive for COVID-19 without any apparent symptoms.
What is the difference between isolation and self-quarantine?
For those that are at a higher risk for COVID-19, self-quarantine should be practiced for 14 days. The main component is social distancing whether inside or outside of the home. It includes the following restrictions.
- Remain at home, going out only for essential items like food or medication
- Stay 6 feet away from people in your home
- No visitors
- Wash hands frequently
- Don’t share towels and utensils
Those with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must remain in isolation for the duration of his/her illness.
It can take place at home, in a hospital, or in a healthcare facility. Healthcare professionals will wear protective gear when caring for these patients. The restrictions are more severe than self-quarantine. The sick person must be completely separated from healthy people by remaining in a separate room (in their house, for example) and must use a separate bathroom. This isolation is usually compelled by federal, state, or local public health orders, according to the CDC.
With schools, offices of employment, museums, restaurants, recreation halls, clubs, conferences, etc. closed, the government is demanding more and more people to self-quarantine with their families, practicing strict laws of social distancing to prevent contracting and spreading the illness. With so much still unknown about the novel coronavirus, containing it to curb further spread appears to be the most effective strategy at present.