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difference between isolation and quarantine
28 Apr 2020

The Difference Between Isolation and Quarantine and What You Really Need for Coronavirus Isolation

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Since it originated earlier this year, the novel coronavirus and its associated disease, COVID-19, have been spreading like wildfire. After the virus was declared a pandemic people across the globe started doing their best to stay healthy and prevent its transmission.

If you’ve been staying on top of the World Health Organization’s recommendations for COVID-19, you’ll notice that they’re calling some people to quarantine themselves and others to practice social isolation. But what’s the difference between isolation and quarantine, and how can you tell which one you need to practice?

We’ll go over all the quarantine vs isolation details below and tell you what you need to be prepared for the next few weeks.

Editor’s note: If you like this article, feel free to join the conversation and leave your comments at the bottom!
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The Difference Between Isolation and Quarantine

Both quarantine and isolation are social distancing measures designed to limit the rapid spread of disease. Even though many people use the terms interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing.

Quarantine

If you’re in quarantine at a hospital or you’ve been asked to self-quarantine at home, it’s because either you or someone you’ve been in contact with tested positive for coronavirus.

Quarantine is an extreme form of social distancing. You won’t be able to come in contact with other people for a minimum of 14 days to avoid transmitting the virus to someone who’s still healthy. These restrictions apply to close friends and family members as well.

If you have to self-quarantine in a home with other residents, it’s vital that you stay separated from them and don’t use any common materials. If possible, use a different bathroom, stay out of the kitchen, and keep yourself in one room with the door closed. At the very least, avoid sharing dishes, utensils, towels, and blankets, stay a minimum of six feet away from others, and use a surgical mask around others to avoid spreading the virus by coughing.

Social Isolation

As opposed to quarantine, social isolation is a more minor intervention. It’s designed to help healthy people stay well and keep from passing the disease along to others.

You may have heard of the “flatten the curve” movement—social isolation is the best way to do just that. Even if you’re young, healthy, and likely to make it through the virus unscathed, isolating yourself from the public will help to keep our healthcare systems from getting overwhelmed with coronavirus cases.

Social isolation doesn’t mean you stay locked in a room by yourself.

Unless your city is on lockdown, you can still go outside for walks and to buy food. Make sure to always maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people and don’t stay to visit in restaurant lobbies or stores. Avoid throwing parties or holding gatherings of more than 10 people, but you can still interact with your family or roommates at home.

Take this opportunity to better yourself, work on projects you’ve been putting off, or just snuggle up with Netflix or a good book.

Preparing for Social Isolation

To prepare for social isolation, shop like you’re preparing for the winter or a camping trip. Your list should include:

  • Personal products and toiletries
  • Paper goods
  • Produce (eating healthy is important—just make sure to wash it)
  • Dry goods like beans, rice, and pasta
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Frozen foods
  • If you have animals, a 30-90 day supply of pet food
  • 30-90 day supplies of prescription medications
  • Hand soap and dish soap
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Water filter pitcher
  • First aid kit

If the stores are out of hand sanitizer and disinfectants around you, it could be worth it to make your own. All you need is isopropyl or ethanol alcohol, aloe vera gel, and essential oils if you’d like. A high-proof vodka can do in a pinch, but make sure your ending mixture is at least 60% alcohol.

Please try not to overbuy for social isolation. Instead, buy enough for a maximum of 3-4 weeks at a time. This will give the stores a better chance of being able to restock their shelves in a timely manner.

Hoarding resources (including toilet paper and cleaning products) only makes it more likely that other people will have to keep going to the store in the hopes of finding enough to survive for another few days. This is counterproductive, as the only way to flatten the curve is to keep people from having to go out in public.

Hoarding specific products can even be dangerous for those who aren’t financially secure or have underlying health conditions. Whenever possible, don’t buy items with a WIC label even though they’re the least expensive option—these are the only things that families using food stamps can buy. Also, don’t buy medical supplies like alcohol wipes and surgical masks, as this means people with compromised immune systems won’t have any available.

Preparing for Quarantine

If you’re preparing for quarantine, it likely means that you or someone in your household has already been infected with the coronavirus. This makes it extremely important that when stocking up, you take measures to keep yourself from infecting others. If you must leave the house for shopping wear a surgical mask and gloves, avoid touching your face, and keep a distance of at least three feet from other people.

Your shopping list should include all of the things listed on the social isolation checklist, as well as:

  • Surgical masks and gloves
  • Decongestants and expectorants to aid breathing
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen to relieve fever
  • Cold and flu medicines
  • A vaporizer or humidifier

If you don’t have a healthy person to send out for food, try supporting a local restaurant by ordering delivery and having them leave the food on your doorstep. Small businesses around the world are feeling the sting of economic shifts, and your support will help them stay open through the pandemic. You can also have a grocery store or delivery service bring supplies to your home.

Finance Management Is Important in Times of Crisis

Now that you understand the difference between isolation and quarantine, it’s time to finish your preparation and stay indoors. We all have to work together to flatten the curve and help our healthcare system navigate the pandemic. Settle in for the next few weeks and always remember to wash your hands!

If you’ve found yourself without income due to COVID-19 and aren’t able to get the supplies you need, Bonsai may be able to help. Fill out our personal loan application request form to get a boost of up to $15,000 as soon as tomorrow.