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What Is The Difference Between Self-Isolation And Quarantine?

Countries throughout the world have different definitions of self-isolation and quarantine. But in the U.S., The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the protocols for American citizens.  

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As the spread of COVID-19 is still on the rise, health authorities are doing everything they can to contain the spread. You have now probably heard of people being asked to self-quarantine or self-isolate. If you are trying to navigate many health measures being taken each day, it can get overwhelming to know what is what. Do not worry, these measures are not terrifying, and they exist to help all of us. However, it is essential to distinguish the difference between self-isolation and quarantine. Countries throughout the world have different definitions of self-isolation and quarantine. But in the U.S., The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the protocols for American citizens.  

What’s The Difference Between Quarantine And Isolation?  

Masks, gloves, and thermometers are all useful tools in monitoring patients of COVID-19

According to the CDC, the purpose of the quarantine is to limit the movement of people who may have been in contact with the virus. These people are often called asymptomatic, meaning that they are not showing any known symptoms of COVID-19 but there is a reasonable doubt that they have been infected. Also, these people have usually traveled to an area in which there is currently an outbreak. It is also possible that they have had contact with someone with a confirmed infection of COVID-19. The period between infection and developing the symptoms is often called incubation. Because a person does not have to show any symptoms in this period to be able to transmit the virus, it is essential that they are quarantined from the rest of the population.   

Quarantine essentially enables health officials to restrict the possible source of the virus spread and to monitor the person in quarantine in case they become sick. Those in self-quarantine will be asked to remain in their homes and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. In case they live with others and they do not have the possibility of living alone, people in quarantine have to avoid contact with others in their household, as much as possible. It sounds worse than it but as long as you prepare well, quarantine should not be a big deal. 

Quarantine Or A Lockdown?  

Bear in mind that some countries use the word “quarantine” to describe a lockdown – a measure intended to prevent movement of people in public places. A lockdown usually means that borders are closed and people are not allowed to leave their homes. Currently, both Italy and France have imposed lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus. In this case,   

What Is Self-isolation?  

Washing hands is important to keep hands free of germs.

Self-isolation is a measure with the purpose of isolating those who are infected and sick from the rest of the population. In self-isolation, people can recover from symptoms of the virus without spreading it further. According to the CDC, people positive for COVID-19 should remain in self-isolation until they have had no fever for 72 hours (three days). They should also self-isolate if other symptoms of COVID-19 have not improved (cough or shortness of breath, for example). It is highly important that they do not decide to step the isolation on their own – this decision needs to be made by healthcare providers and authorities.   

About the Author

Ivan loves writing, music, audio production, and social sciences. He lives by the words of one famous sociologist who said that "sociology is a martial art". When he's not writing, he enjoys playing his Stratocaster and video games.

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