When should you self-isolate, self-quarantine or social-distance?

covid new

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Gayle Markovitz, Editor, World Economic Forum


  • The difference between self-isolation, self-quarantine and social distancing – among other coronavirus-related terminology.
  • Significant health events can affect language greatly.

There is a raft of language around the coronavirus pandemic, which reflects new situations that require a whole different everyday vocabulary. Beware of confusion, however – not all these terms are what they seem.

Social distancing, refers to creating physical distance between people rather than preventing social connection. On the contrary, it is more important than ever to connect with colleagues, friends and family for emotional support – even if you are physically separated from them. Fortunately, this can happen virtually.

There is a distinction between self-isolation and self-quarantine. The CDC offers a clear definition and protocols.

“Isolation separates sick people with a quarantinable communicable disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A lighter approach is to self-monitor, which includes regularly checking your temperature and watching for signs of a respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, while limiting – but not excluding – interaction with others. Again, the CDC offers useful guidance.

So if you are sick, you self-isolate. If you are at high risk of becoming sick because you were in direct contact with someone who is sick, you self-quarantine. Finally, if you attended an event where someone sitting at the other side of the room later became sick, you self-monitor.

If you are an asymptomatic carrier, you show no signs of illness, yet you can pass on the virus to others. This is to be distinguished from an incubatory carrier, who transmits pathogens immediately following infection but prior to developing symptoms.

And who is “patient zero”? In any given country, this is the first confirmed local case of the disease. Unfortunately, COVID-19 patient zeros can be incubatory or asymptomatic carriers of the pathogens, so tracing them is incredibly difficult.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Which leads to the word, pathogen. Some might refer to pathogens as “nasty bugs” – a useful (but unscientific) umbrella term that includes viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. COVID-19 is the disease resulting from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Since the current outbreak, there has been widespread commentary from epidemiologists, who measure epidemiological outcomes. These are the disease outcomes relative to the population at risk. So when they talk about flattening the curve, they are referring to slowing the spread of the virus through public health measures. Epidemiologists try to predict the outbreak’s peak – when the number of new infections in a single day reaches its highest point – but accuracy is extremely difficult.

Some countries have now imposed lockdowns – an emergency measure that prevents people from leaving or entering an area (or country). It will mean that borders are closed and people are required to stay at home and self-quarantine. A containment zone can be established when a particular area seems to be a COVID-19 hotspot. Large gatherings are barred, but people can still come and go.

In the face of a lockdown, many people have been panic-buying – or stockpiling groceries, masks and hand-sanitizers. While this is dangerous for healthcare workers who need these items most, and unfortunate for the global good if/when it leads to shortages of certain items, it is understandable to want to reasonably prepare for an extended period at home, when illness may prevent you from going shopping.

Coronavirus is not the first pandemic to have swept across the world wreaking havoc and it seems there is precedent for these seismic health events to change cultures and create new language. Novel concepts enter the consciousness and the linguistic frames of reference shift to describe the extraordinary. There is even one instance of an entire national language switching as a result of disease.

In his Biography of the English Language, C.M. Millward describes how after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century, French was adopted in England as the official government language. The demographic that mostly spoke French tended to be the aristocracy. When the Black Death wiped out a large proportion of this group, it contributed to the dwindling use of Norman French across the country. English, however, endured. And the rest is history.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Fleeing Venezuela: MEPs to probe humanitarian conditions in Colombia and Brazil

Is a uniform CO2 emission linked car taxation possible in the EU?

Italy can stand the US rating agencies’ meaningless degrading

Bank resolutions to remain a politically influenced affair

Boris to end up in jail if he loses the next elections?

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

Your computer can help scientists find a cure for COVID-19. Here’s how

Protectionism doesn’t stand a chance in the age of connectivity

Commission considers anti-dumping duty on Chinese solar glass imports

Future of Insurance Claims in Focus at Fourth Annual Connected Claims Europe Summit

The Peoples are missing from EU’s monetary union

MEPs back plans to halt spread of drug resistance from animals to humans

10 start-ups that are helping to change the Arab world

Corruption thwarts attempts to build a better world and ‘must be fought by all, for all’

US now has most coronavirus cases in the world – Today’s coronavirus updates

Continuing incarceration of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, ‘reprehensible’: UN experts

The benefits of a cashless society

ECB intervenes to clean May’s and Schäuble’s mess

Education in Emergencies: EU announces record humanitarian funding for 2019 and launches #RaiseYourPencil Campaign

You might soon be travelling without a passport – this is how

Commission: Raising the social issues that can make or break the monetary union

COVID-19: Commission presents guidelines for border measures to protect health and keep goods and essential services available

Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on fulfilment of visa-free requirements by Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries

Winter 2019 Economic Forecast: growth moderates amid global uncertainties

EU-US: A new transatlantic agenda for global change

UN chief ‘deeply alarmed’ over military offensive in south-west Syria

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

6 ways least developed countries can participate in the 4IR

IMF: European banks do not perform their duty to real economy

A Sting Exclusive: Towards better business opportunities for the EU and its neighbours, Commissioner Hahn live from European Business Summit 2015

The Great Reset needs great leaders to help the most vulnerable

Review on ethics and technological development

Spread of polio still an international public health concern

Iraq: Solutions needed ‘urgently’ to quell ongoing violence, break political deadlock

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

This is how good governance can make sure technology works for everyone

EU and Mercosur reach agreement on trade

AIESEC @ European Business Summit 2015: The power of an individual and how we can awaken Europe’s Youth

With 5 billion set to miss out on health care, UN holds landmark summit to boost coverage

What washing your hands can teach you about global change

At Ministerial session, UN regional office in Beirut to focus on technology for sustainable development

Radio still a powerful worldwide tool for ‘dialogue, tolerance and peace’: Guterres

Why helping cross-border commuters is key to fighting COVID-19

An ECB banker wants to change the European social model

Bosses perform better when they are appreciated by their staff, according to a new study

ECB guarantees the liquidity of the Atlantic financial volume

High-tech or ‘high-touch’: UK survey gives clues to the jobs of the future

Young people worldwide can ‘determine the future of migration,’ says UN senior official

Nigeria floods: Guterres ‘deeply saddened’ by loss of life and rising need

China-EU Special Report: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang endorses China’s big investment on Juncker’s plan at 10th China-EU Business Summit

This is how many women have been nominated for best director in the Oscars’ entire history

Burundi: Inclusive dialogue ‘only viable option’ for resolving country’s political crisis says, UN envoy

What we know about the Wuhan coronavirus and urgent plans to develop a vaccine

Kids who live in the countryside have better motor skills, a study in Finland has found

How cities, not states, can solve the world’s biggest problems

US and China in painstaking efforts to conclude trade talks

This Dutch floating village could help tackle city-density and sea-level challenges

Brexit: MEPs concerned about citizens’ rights

UN chief calls for ‘enlightened self-interest’ from world leaders to save ‘the whole planet’ from climate change

Computer skills are crucial for children – in lockdown and in life

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s