Response Preparation - Quarantine or Social Distancing

Quarantine or social distancing including isolation of affected or afflicted patients will need to be considered in disaster plans. Quarantine and isolation have been misused in recent drill exercises. The following definitions illustrate some of the differences in the approach to these protective interventions. The Oxford English dictionary definition of quarantine is “a period of isolation imposed on a person, animal or thing that might otherwise spread a contagious disease.” Dr. Joseph Barbera uses the term isolation as “to denote the separation and confinement of individuals known or suspected (via signs, symptoms, or laboratory criteria) to be infected with a contagious disease to prevent them from transmitting disease to others.” Barbera, J et al.

While the decision and authority to isolate or quarantine is made by public health agencies, the ongoing care of these people and enforcement of the various isolation methods will need to be considered and incorporated in the community disaster plan.

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