36ºF

What does it mean to ‘self-quarantine’ during coronavirus outbreak?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus, so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

What does ‘self-quarantine’ mean?

There are several terms being used in connection with the coronavirus outbreak that are causing confusion. There are distinct differences between self-quarantining, mandatory quarantine and isolation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines isolation as separating those with a contagious disease from those are aren’t sick.

Quarantine, on the other hand, is the separation of people who might have been exposed to a contagious disease.

With coronavirus, the recommended period to self-quarantine is 14 days. CDC officials are asking anyone who might have been exposed to the novel coronavirus -- in other words, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or has traveled to China, Italy, South Korea or Iran -- to self-quarantine.

A person who isn’t showing any symptoms can still self-quarantine to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

To reiterate: Being quarantined or deciding to self-quarantine doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has coronavirus. It’s a way of restricting the movement of someone who is at risk for passing on the illness.

Anyone in self-quarantine is advised to stay in their own room, apartment or house. They should use a separate bathroom, if possible, avoid sharing towels, dishes and other items, and wear a face mask, officials said.

People in self-quarantine should also refrain from activities outside their home, including work, school and social gatherings, experts said. Public transportation and ride-sharing services should also be avoided.

The CDC updates its Level 3 COVID-19 travel advisories page regularly. If you’re returning from a Level 3 country, it’s strongly recommended to self-quarantine.


About the Authors: