Sending patients with mild COVID-19 for quarantine at home does not work because they often violate all conditions by infecting others.
New outbreaks of coronavirus around the world: from Australia to Japan – prove that the world has not learned the first lesson of the pandemic. To stop the spread, people with mild or no symptoms should be isolated from both the community and the family.
A record number of deaths were recorded in Victoria, Australia. Last month, the country conducted 3,000 inspections of people who had to stay in solitary confinement. But it turned out that at least 800 of them left the house and went elsewhere, – writes Bloomberg.
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In Japan, where the coronavirus is on the rise again, people stay at home, but not in isolation. 40% of elderly patients picked up the infection from their families. Failure to control contagious people with mild or no symptoms is a major driver of some of the world’s worst outbreaks. But the experience of Italy, South Korea and other countries that have successfully extinguished large-scale outbreaks shows that there is already a proven way to stop the transmission of coronavirus. And this is the relocation of infected people from home to special centers, where they will remain until they overcome the infection. This usually lasts no more than a few weeks.
“The non-interference approach, which involves naively holding everyone accountable, has proven ineffective. There will always be those who violate all conditions of isolation,” said Jeremy Lim, a professor at So Swi Hawk Medical School at Singapore National University.
Faced with a new coronavirus cluster this week after 102 days without a single case of infection, New Zealand quickly switched to a strategy of forced isolation. She sent about 30 people to a special centralized quarantine, including two children under the age of 10.
But other countries suffering from the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus, such as the United States and Australia, do not use this method. Despite the fact that it has proven its effectiveness. Their reluctance or inability to do so underscores the challenges facing liberal democracies. After all, the population in such countries is less willing to put up with measures that require personal sacrifice for the common good.
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The existence of a large group of carriers who do not feel sick is a unique feature of the coronavirus pandemic and a major factor in its rapid spread around the world. Unlike the SARS epidemic in 2003, many infected people simply do not feel bad enough to stay at home. Therefore, the spread of the pathogen continues when they continue their usual activity. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 40% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic.
In Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus pandemic began last year, patients with mild symptoms were first sent from hospitals to rest at home. This slightly reduced the pressure on overcrowded hospitals and made it possible to focus on the seriously ill. But health experts quickly discovered that people with the mild form of COVID-19 were infecting their relatives and others in the community.
Sending patients with or without mild symptoms to special centers (such as some hotels and stadiums), where they were under basic medical supervision, was a turning point for Wuhan. Separation of infected from healthy allowed to stop the silent spread of the virus.
This strategy was then applied in Italy, Singapore and South Korea in the first half of this year. Faced with a new rise in cases last month, Hong Kong has turned exhibition centers into isolators for people with mild COVID-19. In addition, additional premises were built.
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In New Zealand, the government “considered” this approach well before applying it. According to the Minister of Health Ashley Bloomfield, family members of patients are offered to go to solitary confinement with an infected relative.
“It is better to be more aggressive in the short term, even with mild cases of infection, than to allow such patients to disappear from the radar,” said Nicholas Thomas, a professor of health security at Hong Kong City University.
But the forced isolation of people with or without mild symptoms has met with resistance in countries where people are reluctant to follow government orders. Some may lose their jobs if they disappear for two weeks in solitary confinement. And others cannot move to a special center for a while due to the care of children or elderly parents.
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