Special Feature on COVID-19: the Quarantine

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Adapted in English by Valérie Harnois

As part of a series of information capsules on COVID-19, destined to youth aged 8 to 16, today we address the quarantine. Many people across the world find themselves in quarantine for fourteen days. But what does that mean exactly?

What is quarantine? 

Since the beginning of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, many measures have been put in place by governments across the world in order to reduce the propagation of the virus. One of the measures proposed is the quarantine of travellers upon their arrival in the country and the quarantine of people infected with the virus. When people are quarantined, it means that they have to isolate themselves at home for a certain amount of time. In the present case, the quarantine is 14 days. During this period, those people there is no school, no shopping at the grocery store, no travelling using public transit and no visitors. The people who are infected are called carriers. The purpose of the quarantine is to slow down the propagation of the virus and reduce the number of people to whom the disease can be transmitted. By reducing the number of people carriers come in contact with, there should be a reduction of the number of people this carrier will infect.

« …it’s estimated each carrier of the virus infects an average of two to three people. »

Source: CBC March 13, 2020 

In English, the word quarantine is both a verb and a noun. The word “quarantine” was used for the first time in the 14th century in Italy. When the boats would arrive in Venice, Italy, and had come across places that were infected with the plague, they had to isolate for a period of roughly 40 days. Forty, in Italian, is quaranta, hence the word quarantine. Until the 20th century, the isolation period took place in a lazaret (or lazaretto). A lazaret was a building with very thick walls where the living conditions were harsh. It is no surprise that many people who were quarantined tried to escape. Nowadays, the conditions for quarantine are much better, and most importantly, in the comfort of our own home. 

What should you do if you are quarantined for COVID-19? 

The Public Health Agency of Canada has made recommendations regarding the attitudes and behaviours to adopt during an isolation period, also called quarantine:

1- Stay home.  

You should not, under any circumstances, leave your home. If you suspect you are developing COVID-19 symptoms, call 1 877 644-4545. For any emergency, first call 8-1-1. If it is a case of life or death situations, call 9-1-1. 

 2- Adopt safe practices of respiratory hygiene.

Sneeze and cough in the inside of your arm. When you use a tissue, throw it in the garbage immediately after use and then wash your hands. 

3- Wash your hands often.

Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Don’t feel like counting to 20 every time? Well, 20 seconds is just enough time to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Wash your hands before preparing food, before eating, after eating, after using the washroom, after touching something dirty or that might be contaminated, and at any other time that requires a cleaning. There is no such thing as hands too clean. 

4- Limit contacts with closed ones.

Stay away from people, even those who live with you. You should remain a minimum of two meters away from them, and reduce face-to-face interactions to a minimum, even with pets. If you must go out (for a medical appointment or emergencies), cover your mouth and nose using a mask or scarf. Note that masks are only for people with symptoms and health care professionals.

5- Do not share personal items.

Avoid sharing personal items such as your computer, cellphone, toothbrush and the like. 

6- Clean surfaces often.

Surfaces that are touched often should be cleaned at least once a day. Those surfaces include door knobs, light switches, counters, refrigerator handles, drawer handles, toilets, faucets, etc.

Disinfect your computer and cellphone often using 70% alcohol. 

7- Check your symptoms 

Even if you are in isolation preventatively, take your body temperature every day, at the same time each day. Watch carefully for symptoms such as fever, cough, breathlessness, chest pain and unusual fatigue.

Source : Government of Canada

Test your knowledge with a Quizizz

To verify students’ comprehension of the concept of quarantine, click on this link to access the quiz. Then click on « Play live ». You will have access to a few parameters to configure the quiz. Once you have configured it, click on the purple button « Jeu d’hôte ». This will display the code students need to access the quiz. Students go to joinmyquiz.com and enter the unique code that you have given them. When all the players are connected, press « Début ». 

Enjoy the quiz!

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