We are hearing about people, cruise ships, and entire countries being quarantined to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus which is the cause of the infectious disease CoVID-19. So what does being quarantined mean?
First, we need to understand the right terminology and differences between quarantine and isolation. According to The Centers for Disease Control:
Isolation – People that are confirmed to be infected with an infectious disease that is transmittable are isolated so they are unable to come in direct contact with people that are not sick.
Quarantine – Containing a person or people that were exposed to an infectious disease, but not necessarily infected, to prevent them from potentially contaminating other individuals or communities.
Being Quarantined also typically involves a waiting period to make sure the individual or group of individuals does not become infected. Currently, the government has the authority to quarantine and isolate for some listed infectious diseases, and the laws are fairly broad under The Department of Health and Human Services and CDC Rule 42 CFR Parts 70 and 71.
China and South Korea have already implemented drastic measures to fight Coronavirus and now, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, has chosen to quarantine the entire country of Italy. So what does it mean to quarantine an entire country? For Italy, it means the entire country is an exclusion zone or red zone. All public events are banned and if you need to travel you must be granted permission. In Rome, anyone that travels into the country from an infected area must report immediately for quarantine or face a penalty of 3 months in jail. Travel is severely restricted in the country for most people and it would not be surprising to see further action, such as mandatory curfews or house arrest if the virus continues to spread.