What is quarantine and how it helps in tackling COVID-19?
According to WHO, coronavirus or COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic affecting 334,981 people and claiming 14,652 lives (at the time of writing this article). Approximately, 190 countries have been infected with the deadly virus. As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, 446 people have been infected along with 9 deaths in the country so far. To contain the spread of the fast-moving virus, quarantine is a necessary step. In this article, we will unveil the term ‘quarantine’ and will shed light on how it helps in tackling the deadly virus.
What is quarantine?
The people who have been exposed to an infectious disease say COVID-19 and are not ill but might be infected are quarantined. This means that the person who came in contact with the infectious disease is either asked to stay at home or at any other location to prevent further spread of the infectious disease. During this time, the health of the person is monitored.
WHO on quarantine
According to WHO, introducing quarantine measures early in an outbreak may delay the introduction of the disease to a country or area and/ or may delay the peak of an epidemic in an area where local transmission is ongoing. However, if not implemented properly, quarantine may also create additional sources of contamination and dissemination of the disease.
For contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus, WHO recommends a quarantine period of 14 days from the time the person was exposed to the COVID-19 patient. When the home quarantine is chosen, the person should occupy a well-ventilated single room, or if a single room is not possible, maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from other household members, minimizing the use of shared spaces and cutlery and ensuring that shared spaces (kitchen, bathroom) is well ventilated.
As per WHO, daily follow-up of persons quarantined should be conducted within the quarantine facility for the duration of the quarantine and should include daily body temperature and symptom screening. Groups of persons at higher risk of infection and severe disease may require additional surveillance for chronic conditions or specific medical treatments. Any person in quarantine who develops a febrile illness or respiratory symptoms, at any point during the quarantine period, should be treated and managed as a suspect COVID-19 case.
WHO advises laboratory testing of a respiratory sample from quarantined persons, irrespective of symptoms, at the end of the quarantine period.
Does quarantine actually help in tackling COVID-19?
With the escalating number of COVID-19 positive cases in China, strict restrictions were put in place to quarantine people. Buses, railways, flights etc. were suspended and people were confined to home. This resulted in a decline in the disease’s spread. According to WHO, the number of new cases in China each day resulted in a dramatic decline.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, novel coronavirus is thought to be transmitted when an infected person coughs/ sneezes. It is similar to the spread of Influenza and other respiratory pathogens.
To combat the fast-spreading deadly virus, the Prime Minister of India urged the people of the country to resolve and restraint and adopt social distancing in addition to the ‘Janta curfew’ on Sunday. The government of India has also lockdown 80 Indian districts where positive cases of coronavirus have emerged while Maharashtra and Punjab governments have imposed statewide curfews as people were defying the lockdown orders.
According to Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, ‘We welcome Prime Minister's call for adopting social distancing strategy. Effective implementation of the strategy will go a long way in controlling the spread of the virus along with hand-hygiene, coughing and sneezing in one's sleeves. Even as we maintain social distancing, it is equally vital to stand together in solidarity to overcome this challenge.’