Quarantine Meaning (What is it, Concept and Definition)

What is Quarantine

Quarantine is a period in which isolation is sought from people who have or could have contracted a disease, but they still do not show symptoms. It also applies to healthy people or communities that you want to protect from possible contagion.

Quarantine comes from Latin quadraginta and it refers to a period of forty days, which was the time of isolation to those suspected of contracting the black plague in the fourteenth century.

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

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

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

On the other hand, there is also the 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

Also called social distancing or voluntary isolation, refers to the period in which a healthy person is isolated from the outside world to avoid contagion. Voluntary quarantine usually lasts 14 or 15 days and requires, among other measures:

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

See also Social distancing.

General quarantine

It involves the isolation of large groups of people (communities, cities, countries) and the closure or restriction of activities involving crowds of people (shopping malls, 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 certain territory.
  • Allow commercial activity only in essential areas: food and health.
  • Limit public transport in whole or in part.
  • Use of public force to enforce the terms of the quarantine.

See also Curfew.

Hospital quarantine

It refers to the period of isolation that a patient must complete once they have been infected. The protocols will vary depending on the disease, but in general terms it is usually suggested:

  • Patient location in a special room or area.
  • Total or partial restriction of visits.
  • Regular clinical tests to control the disease.
  • Inspection of the patient’s close environment to rule out new infections.

See also Epidemic.