The Difference Between Quarantine and Isolation

Knowing when and how to isolate or quarantine can help stop the spread of COVID-19, but isolation and quarantine are not the same thing.

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people who are suspected to have COVID-19 or have tested positive whether or not they have symptoms from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease and have not yet developed symptoms to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.

How to isolate

Isolation is used to separate those infected with COVID-19 from those who aren’t.

Those in isolation need to stay home for at least 14 days after their symptoms begin and until their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medications.

In the home, those in isolation should try and stay away from other members of the household.

The idea is that you minimize contact with anyone else to limit the spread of the disease. To do so, follow the following steps.

  • Stay at home
  • Stay away from other people.
  • Stay in your own room.
  • Clean your own room.
  • Use your own bathroom.
  • Clean your own bathroom.
  • Stay home until you feel better.
  • Stay away from pets and service animals.
  • You may have to stay home for a while.
  • You may have to stay home for at least 14 days.
  • Tell someone if you are worried about how you feel.

Don’t share personal items like dishes or glasses. The only reason to leave the house is if you need to get urgent medical care, and then wear a face covering if you can to avoid spread to others.

How to quarantine

The guidance surrounding quarantine is slightly different.

Quarantine is meant to keep someone who has had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 away from others. You should stay home for the 14-day quarantine period while also monitoring for symptoms.

  • Quarantine means to stay home.
  • People who were near someone with COVID-19 must quarantine.
  • Quarantine for 14 days if you were near someone with COVID-19.
  • Take your temperature two times each day. Stay away from other people.
  • Stay away from people with other health problems.

Any person who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 needs to quarantine.

close contact is categorized as:

  • Being in close contact with someone who has covid
  • Providing care for someone with COVID-19 at home
  • Direct physical contact such as kissing or hugging with someone who has COVID-19
  • Sharing of utensils
  • Being exposed to droplets via coughing or sneezing from someone with COVID-19

Experts say quarantine can help stop the virus from spreading from people who don’t yet know they are sick or infected.

We put people in quarantine who have been exposed because they may develop the infection and we know that the incubation period is before that infection develops, that is before a test becomes positive and or a person develops symptoms.

What to do after getting tested

For those awaiting COVID-19 test results, the advice is slightly different depending on the reason for testing.

If a person got tested because they are symptomatic, they need to isolate until test results are known. If someone got tested because they were a close contact with a known COVID case, they need to continue the quarantine for 14 days.

Most important rule: Stay home

When it comes to the rules governing what’s allowed in isolation and quarantine, experts say it’s actually quite simple.

In either isolation or quarantine, people need to stay home at all times. The safest situation is to not be in contact with others.