Is Quarantine the Key to Coronavirus Disease?

COVID-19 or the Coronavirus disease is the illness caused by the deadly corona virus commonly known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was identified for the first time in the city of Wuhan, in the Republic of China, during an outbreak of a respirational illness.

The disease has been spreading since then, with an increasing number of infections reported in many corners of the world day after day.

The symptoms can start with a fever, coughs and sneezes, and severe headache. These symptoms are mild and common in both flu and common cold. However, the headache and fever is severe in the case of COVID-19.

It spreads from one person to another through droplets of body fluids, which could be passed when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Other ways of transmission are through contact such as kissing.

The disease has spread in most parts of the world affecting almost everything globally. It has been considered a global COVID -19 pandemic in the early stages 2020. The transmission of the disease is still on the rise, and no appropriate medication has already been discovered so far.

This then led to initiation of control measures to help tame the spread of the pandemic disease.

Some of the measures implemented include lockdowns, proper hygiene recommendations, social-distancing and keeping people in quarantine, both the sick and healthy. These measures vary from country to country, according to the level of infection, among other factors.

The History of Quarantine & Why it is Controversial.

The idea of quarantine began years ago, in the 1800s when people who suffered leprosy were isolated from the general public. They were confined in a hospital in Carville, La.

Isolationcame with lots of negative impacts, with most sick people taking extreme measures. Victims soon begunhiding their disease due to the fear of being forcibly isolated.

When the US government launched a nationwidelook into the matter in 1917, it established that the best way to contain the bacteria responsible for leprosy was to lock away the infected.

This was dangerous for both the patient and family members, because the patients were confined for life due to lack of cure.

The patients would lose their civil rights, their freedom and livelihoods, as well as respect from the other members of the society.

In any case a sick woman gave birth in the hospital or a confinement site, the baby was taken away from her to avoid infection. This would cause a lot of challenges in both the life of the mother and the infant.

The total number of identified leprosy casesin the 19th century were over 275, with the investigators speculating that more victimsmay be hiding due to fear.

After a while, the solution was found to do more harm than good. Instead of containing the disease, it promoted it by hindering treatment and researches, leading to destruction of many lives.

The current global pandemic, COVID-19, is quite different from the leprosy case in the past century. This is because it strikes when medicine and tech is reaching for the sky. We have the best medical and health careservices, and one can fully recover after being infected by the coronavirus disease.

Still, the virus for corona is highly contagious than the bacteria for leprosy. This is because over 95% of people are naturally resistant to leprosy.

Even so, the two diseases have raised similar debatesin the world of medicine.

  1. Is quarantine and locking victims (and others) away the most effective way to contain a disease?
  2. Do they make people more reluctant to identify themselves as potential victims?
  3. Is the general aftermath of the seclusion and quarantine positive or negative?

“It flops because people run away—they don’t call or ever seek health care… And medics are generally scared to touch apatient because they know an infection would mean quarantine for them as well,” says Wendy Parmet,of Northeastern University.

Dwellers in Chicago have been warned that working out outdoors is now an offence that could get you behind bars. The case is similarin Washington DC where populaces have been cautioned against acting against the lock down directions.

The situation is even worse in Rhode Island— authorities in the area are hunting for anyone from New York and putting them in quarantine by force.

All these go on when Supreme Court’s Justice Robert Jackson had publicly declared that “the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact, neither is it a carte blanche for the federal government to bar the exercise of rights during an epidemic.”

Such reluctance on both sides raises questions on the government capabilities to contain a transmissible diseaseoutburst. A walk down memory lane show quarantines have a conflict-ridden history in the United States, surrounded with numerous lingering legal questions.

The use of the term “quarantine” has been unclear for long.Both medical pundits and government officials using it to refer to many different things. Isolation orders usually seek to seclude the people suffering or suspected to suffer from a contagious disease.

These orders havebeen implemented for a long time and many time authorities do not respect or consider a victim’s rights. The infected persons are considered a risk to the well-being of the public.

Quarantine Backfires: We Remember Typhoid Mary.

Theeffectsof the isolation orders isembodied in a case of one Mary Mallon, known to many as the infamous Typhoid Mary.

Even though many deaths and sickness occurred wherever she worked as a chief, Mary persistently denied she was the primary transmitter of the fatal disease. Still, shewas put into isolation twice by the authorities in New York.

The first confinement took a period of over three years, until she accepted that she was a public health threat. She was then directed not to work as a chef ever, a direction which she embraced.

Later on, she became unhappy while working for lower incomes as a laundress, than she earned as a chef. Mary then went back to her cooking career, this time under a name Mary Brown.

She did this for more than five years, spreading the typhoid with a revenge, until she was forcibly put under quarantine. She stayed in quarantine until she died, and her remains still proved the evidence of the typhoid bacteria.

In this sad true story, the patient refused to heed to the medical guidelines (meant to fight against a contagious disease) because the authorities never considered her well-being.

Nurses at Risk Too: The Encounters of Kaci Hickox.

Today healthcare professionals are dealing with the Coronavirus disease by treating the symptoms, to help the patient’s immune system fight it. This has however not been easy, because of the risk of infection the healthcare officials could be exposing themselves to when handling COVID-19 patients.

Battling contagious has involved isolation orders through history, in diseases such as the Spanish flu and tuberculosis.

Kaci Hickox, one of the nurses dealing with Ebola patients six years ago, was forced into a mandatory isolation by officials in New Jersey.

She went ahead and sued the state, and the grievance was put aside after the state decided to be using such measures in medically essential situations.

The Governments is Not Ready for Pandemics?

Quarantines usuallyinvolvesconfining of a huge number of people either through lockdowns or travel bans.

Presidents in most parts of the world have boosted authority over their borders, to limit international travels as per their laws and regulations.

 Thesemeasures are much more necessary than one might think because an outbreak like the current COVID-19nay ignite a type of warfare between states.

Like in the case of the Rhode Island where people were sought for after fleeing from the New York State. This shows how states are afraid of getting infected by the novel Coronavirus disease.

Governments are being faced by a great deal of authority to order the halt of some activities, and increased production of materials that will support in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, The CDC has asked authorities to quarantine suspected carriers of the infection. Federal regulations comprise of highly generalized and untried language for action.

One of the rules known as the “Measure in Event of Inadequate Local Control” only reserves the authority of the CDC to take such measures to prevent such spread of the diseases thatit finds sensibly essential for public health.

At federal level, we still have no direct authority for domestic quarantines.

What if the national transport system, such asrailway systems, serve as checkpoints to restrictmovement between states? Can this help ensure that infected people stay where they are and control the transmission of the virus?

The director in charge of the CDCholds the authority to quarantine anyone. For quarantine to take effect, medics must have reason to believethe person is infected with a communicable disease, and is moving, or about to move, from one state to another.

The major challenge is that both the national and regional quarantine areas have been designed and given the powers to isolate people without any sign or symptom. This, as matter of fact, can lead to many challenges.

As we saw in the nurse Kaci Hickox’s case, any of the legal challenges would take a longer time than the quarantine period itself.

Practically, quarantines have been the most successful method for both limited areas and periods as well. It is always a great deal for every government to enforce lockdown orders. This is because of lack of enough preparedness for a pandemic, like the case of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In most cases, orders that contravene people’s freedom rights such as movement, the right of association, and also the right to due process, are given.

Although none stand absolute, breaking such rights comes at a costand are in most cases the result of conflicting interests, and poorly implemented government actions.

A man was arrested in New Jerseysome time back for holding a “coronavirus party” in violation of New Jersey law. Such movements are likely to be upheld if the state can clearly demonstrate an instant danger to health of the general public.

 New York mayor, Bill De Blasio,gave a strict warning to the Jewish community to stop holding minyanim, or any other gathering of worshipers for prayers. He directed that the meetings are a great threat to the members of public health in the city.

The issue was undoubtedly personified by a certain pastor in Louisiana known as Tony Spell, who challengedthe authorities by holding church services with more than 1,000 members of his Life Tabernacle Church.

Pastor Spell, who then claimed to have been curingdiseases such as cancer, asked why Walmart could stay open but not his church. The answer is what we all know,that Walmart and any other food dealer cannot get food to folksvia the internet, but churches can hold online services during the times of crisis.

There have been, however, conspicuousillogicalities in the context of the Constitution. The federal government has the authority to stop televangelist Jim Bakker from selling a “silver sol liquid” as a coronavirus cure.

Is the federal government too powerless to stop a minister promising that faith alone has the power to heal or protect followers?We all know that such assurances can discourage people from seeking medical help or engaging in preventive measures.

Ourlaw courts are likely to be veryrespectful to isolation orders by state authorities as well as imperfect orders by the federal authorities.

There is room in the Constitution to deal with crises, but the countervailing need of such rights as associations and religious exercises are yet to be included.

More significantly, the efficacy of such orders highly depend on the collaboration of each and every one in a population. Not even our government can keep a huge population in an effective lockdown,not only when the people are willing to stay in their houses.

This clearly indicates that the critical key to the containment of a certain pandemic like the current COVID-19 pandemic is persuading rather than pressure. People will yield to the orders effectively if they are first made aware of the situation that is leading to the orders.

In the case of COVID-19, we have to train the public to respect several measures such as social distancing and proper hygiene. In order to encourage the social distancing, restaurants, cafes, gyms, schools, museums, social gathering areas and other institutions have been shut down across the world.

All shops and other business premises, except food stores and pharmacies,have also been closed permanently in some parts of the globe. In other nations, businesses are operating under tight supervision.

Public gatherings such as religious services and business meetings, social and sporting events have been cancelled. Such bans have been initiated in different parts of the world to help fight the disease.

Quarantined people, whether in self-quarantine or government quarantines, are notallowed to enter or leave their quarantine areas.The only movement allowed is work-related,and the movement of essential service providers.

One of the countries known to record a high numbers of COVID-19 infections is Italy. Then United States of America follows. The number of daily reported infected cases is still on the rise in some parts of the world such as the United States of America.

Quarantine Can be Effective, but Infected Persons mustn’t be victimized.

The predominantly embraced quarantine measures in most parts of the world are similar to the ones taken by, from which corona originated.

The nation suffered any infectionsat the start of beginning of the global pandemic.When the daily cases of COVID-19 grew daily in Hubei China, the authorities in the country gave strict restrictions which saw over 60 million go to quarantine.

The people were confined in their homes, all institutions were shut down. There was no movement allowed, and all factories, offices, buses, flights, ferries, and railways stopped operating.

The results were an amazing dramatic decline of the daily reported cases of both infections and deaths. Within a single month of shutdown, social distancing worked effectively and the number of the new cases dropped from over 1600 cases each day to 36 cases reported daily.

As we all know, the novel coronavirus disease can be transmitted when an individual infected with the virus coughs or exhales.

This is because through that they release tiny contaminated droplets which convey the virus to the people around them.

When breathing in, the people around could inhale the contaminated droplets, or it couldland on their mouths or eyes.

By putting people in quarantine, you reduce social contactshence limiting the chances of transmission of the virus. This helpsin avoidingthe spread of theinfection cases andoverwhelming health service providers with the number of cases to handle.

However,being under lockdown for a long period can take its toll on the COVID-19 infected people. Apart from both the fear of infection and boredom, studies show that being in an isolation for a long time can produce post-traumatic stress indications, misperception and disappointment.

These feelings can be intensified by inadequate supplies and financial losses which the patients or quarantined people would suffer during the lockdown. It is important for the authorities consider all the patients wellbeing if lockdown is the last resort.

It is also very important to ensure that the individuals are confined not longer than necessary. They should also be taken care for and given a clear basis for their being quarantined. As any other person, they also need regular updates with the necessary information that will help them know what to do.

Food is a basic to everyone. The authorities should always ensure that the people have reliable access to food supply and other necessities. It is wise to plan for all these things before giving orders for quarantine and complete closure of activities.

To ease some of these concerns, Italy encouraged both internet companies and publishers to offer free services to the people while in quarantine. This was aimed at ensuring that people work or study at home.

Other offers on the Italian government’s “Digital Solidarity” site included mobile phone companies giving additional data grants and a major magazine publisher giving away over 50,000 free magazine subscriptions.

However hostile the experience is, quarantine has been a highly useful tool in decelerating outbreaks in the history.

This was witnessed in the times of the well-known influenza pandemic,in the year 1918. Both churches, movie theatres, schools and sporting activities were cancelled in most cities of the United States of America such as St Louis.

In St Louis, the measures were taken at the early stages of the pandemic. In the end,it experienced far much less fatalities than the other cities in the country, which implemented the measures much later.

More significantly, the efficacy of quarantine and lockdown orders will highly depend on the collaboration of essentially each and every one in a population. Not any of our governments can keep a huge population in an effective lockdown. Not only when the people are willing to stay at home.

To wrap up

Public awareness is therefore very important in the quarantine measures, if we want to have them implemented. We should therefore ensure that amidst all other preparations for an effective lockdown, out members of society are informed of why we are doing it, and how it has to be done.

The outcomes of quarantine can be highly effective in slowing the growth of the novel coronavirus disease as it was witnessed in China and other parts of the world. Still, quarantine has negative implications to the victims, which we can’t continue to ignore.

For that reason, we must prepare well for disaster and use the resources we have at hand to avoid violating the rights of the victims. The general aim should be to overcome this pandemic in the most appropriate way— without victimizing the infected.

Everyone should take the necessary precautions and measures to help us win the pandemic seriously, and together we shall overcome the coronavirus disease.