Social distancing, quarantine, and isolation during an infectious disease outbreak
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread an infectious disease. Schools and other gathering places such as movie theaters may close, and sports events and religious services may be cancelled.
What is quarantine?
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. It lasts long enough to ensure the person has not contracted an infectious disease.
What is isolation?
Isolation prevents the spread of an infectious disease by separating people who are sick from those who are not. It lasts as long as the disease is contagious.
In the event of an infectious disease outbreak, local officials may require the public to take measures to limit and control the spread of the disease. The government has the right to enforce laws related to public health if people within the country get sick with highly contagious diseases that have the potential to develop into outbreaks or pandemics.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations such as an infectious disease outbreak that requires social distancing, quarantine, or isolation. People may feel anxiety, worry, or fear related to own health status and also the health status of others whom they may have exposed to the disease. They may have experienced of monitoring by others for signs and symptoms of the disease.ƒThere may be fear of potential loss of income and job security or uncertainty or frustration about how long they will need to remain in this situation, and uncertainty about the future. The public perception of risk during a situation such as an infectious disease outbreak is often inaccurate. During social distancing, quarantine, and isolation understand the risk consider the real risk of harm to yourself and others around you.
Ways to support yourself during social distancing, quarantine & isolation
* Speaking out about your needs is particularly important if you are in quarantine, since you may not be in a hospital or other facility where your basic needs are met. Ensure you have what you need to feel safe, secure, and comfortable.
* Work with local or national health officials to find out how you can arrange for groceries and toiletries to be delivered to your home as needed.
* Inform health care providers or health authorities of any needed medications and work with them to ensure that you continue to receive those medications.
* Health care providers and health authorities should provide information on the disease, its diagnosis, and treatment. Do not be afraid to ask questions-clear communication with a health care provider may help reduce any distress associated with social distancing, quarantine, or isolation.ƒAsk for written information when available. Ask a family member or friend to obtain information in the event that you are unable to secure this information on your own.
* If you're unable to work during this time, you may experience stress related to your job status or financial situation. Provide your employer with a clear explanation of why you are away from work.
* Contact your utility providers, cable and Internet provider, and other companies from whom you get monthly bills to explain your situation and request alternative bill payment arrangements as needed.
* Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can use the telephone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.
* Talk "face to face" with friends and loved ones using Skype or social media.ƒIf approved by health authorities and your health care providers, arrange for your friends and loved ones to bring you newspapers, movies, and books.
* Use the Internet, radio, and television to keep up with local, national, and world events.
* Relax your body often by doing things that work for you-take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or pray, or engage in activities you enjoy.
* Talk about your experiences and feelings to loved ones and friends, if you find it helpful.
* Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.
After social distancing, quarantine, or isolation you may experience mixed emotions, including a sense of relief. If you were isolated because you had the illness, you may feel sadness or anger because friends and loved ones may have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious. The best way to end this common fear is to learn about the disease and the actual risk to others. Sharing this information will often calm fears in others and allow you to reconnect with them.
Dr. Nazma Akter
Assistant Professor (Endocrinology
& Metabolism) Department of Medicine
MARKS Medical College & Hospital,