As the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues its ruthless spread around the world – the WHO officially declared it a pandemic on Wednesday – governments are vigorously struggling to control the crisis. Their ultimate goal is not to stop the virus in its tracks, as the cases are very widespread, but to "turn the curve", which is to reduce the rate of new infections. This allows researchers to design tests and treatments, and hospitals do not avert the sudden rush of new patients.
One easy way to help curve up is to get social distance, which means staying away from other people and gathering in large crowds. But the more severe approach is what the Chinese authorities have captured in the city of Wuhan, where the novel Coronavirus first appeared: locked everyone under quarantine. In this case, it was a Mass Quarantine in which the city was confined to the city. Governments can also order small quarantines that cover those who are not known to be infected but are subject to who they are. (IsolationIt may be a non-quarantine term for the release of infected persons.) You may also voluntarily self-quarantine if you know you have contact with the patient.
The Wuhan quarantine was unprecedented – millions were told to stay home. Although skeptical about the approach from the outset, WHO officials said last month that mass quarantine would slow the spread of the virus to other countries and that other countries should consider adopting such an approach.
But not everyone is convinced. "I have a great deal of doubt about it," said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown WHO Fellow at the National and Global Health Law Center. Yes, new cases have diminished in China, but they have also collapsed in South Korea, which has not shut down entire cities. "So I don't know if you need these draconian measures," he says.
These measures have had great results. Industries have closed and the economy is slowing. In some cases, this can lead to a severe level of government surveillance and social control. This may be less shocking in an authoritarian state like China, but can we see extreme measures in the United States as our disease develops? "I think it's unthinkable in the United States," Gostin says. "Americans will not get the degree of social control they need in China or intrusive surveillance. We have to be wise. ”
Done wrong, quarantines can make things worse: change Great princess Cruising aboard a giant coronavirus container was a very, very bad idea, as healthy people were kept aboard those who had the disease. To do it right, you need to provide everyone with a port and force the patient into isolation and treatment. "Keeping them on a cruise ship couldn't have been more brutal and ineffective if we really were trying Be cruel and ineffective, ”says Gostin.
Gostin insists the US needs more tests and faster ones. He said we should not only train those who show symptoms but also randomly test people to better understand the "silent" transmission, that is, when people are infected with the virus, without symptoms. Those who are positive about the virus should be isolated and treated in hospitals, and people who are exposed to the virus should self-quarantine. "It takes time," Gostin says. "Days, weeks matter."
To learn more about the complex science of quarantine, watch our video with Gostin above.
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