We all have heard about the current situation of the world. The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 commonly known as Corona virus has caused millions of deaths across the world. Corona virus outbreak started from Wuhan in China. It was first identified in December 2019 and since then it has been spreading all around. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it as a public health emergency on international concern (PHEIC) on 30th January 2020 and a pandemic on 11th March, 2020. Still no vaccines have been discovered so far but infected people are being treated through different methodologies. And now, the most important concern is how to stop it from spreading. There are many ways to take precautions but the most important is quarantine and that is what has been followed in all the countries including India.
QUARANTINE: literal meaning and its history
The word quarantine comes from 'Quarantena' which means 'forty days', used in the 14th - 15th century’s Venetian language. Quarantine means a restriction on the movement of people and a goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who have been exposed to a communicable disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have confirmed medical diagnosis.
Some notable quarantine in modern history includes -:
1. The village of Eyam (1665 bubonic plagues outbreak in England)
2. East Samoa (1918 flu pandemic)
3. Yugoslav smallpox(1972)
4. Corona virus pandemic (2019-20)
● Difference between isolation and quarantine-: Isolation and quarantine both have very different meanings. Quarantine is the compulsory separation and confinement of healthy individuals to prevent exposure to the carrier of the infection whereas Isolation represents one of the several measures that can be taken to implement infection control, most commonly used when a patient is known to have transmissible viral or bacterial issues.
SITUATION IN INDIA
The virus has affected Indian population too badly. According to the sources most of the cases in India originated abroad and transmitted from them on their return to the country rather than being transmitted in the country. The first 50 cases found positive for Covid-19 did not have any travel history but came in contact with someone who traveled abroad. After this corona virus patients increased rapidly in the country.
To take control over this Indian government took all necessary steps to restrict the spread. Schools and colleges were closed, public gatherings were strictly prohibited. Soon the government took a major step and announced its first 14 hour voluntary public curfew on 22nd March, 2020. Instantly after that the government announced a lock down till 13th April, 2020 which is now extended till 3rd May, 2020 and there are still chances that it can be extended further.
People are supposed to stay home, work from home, in very rare cases they are allowed to go out.
QUARANTINE AND ITS EFFECTS.
Though everything done by the government is essential but like every coin has two sides, this situation also has another face to it.
People are bound to stay at homes. They have nowhere to go but stay trapped in their own houses. Now there are people who stay away from their homes. There are students, bachelors and many others who stay away in different cities on rented flats or hostels. Due to sudden lock down it also led to stopping the transportation services and a large number of people are stuck away from their homes. But there are people who are giving themselves a break, by staying at home, and spending time with their families.
We would further discuss the effects of quarantine by categorizing it into two parts i.e. Positive and Negative .
● POSITIVE: The quarantine has made people stay home. They are spending time with their families. Many are working on improving their skills, learning new things. The internet is full of how people are spending their quarantine days. Celebrities are coming up with different ways to influence people on how they should keep themselves engaged. Institutes are organizing webinars and many other online courses to keep everyone active and still gain knowledge. Since the lock down has started the government did two most surprising things which were clapping by standing in the balcony and the second was the lighting of diyas. Like everything has exceptions it also had few but these activities showed how the people of India are united together. The most important thing which quarantine is helping in is stopping the spread of the virus through human contact.
● NEGATIVE: Since the lock down started many people tried returning back to their homes but they were not able to. Many students are stuck in their hostels; people are losing their jobs mostly who work in private companies. Daily wages workers are not able to earn and are stuck with no money to buy daily essentials. According to the reports domestic violence has increased. Many people are stuck in faraway places without their families, it is leading to depression and feeling of loneliness. It is not only affecting them mentally but physically as well as they are growing weak due to lack of attention to themselves. The most affected group of people are the poor ones. They have lost their jobs, those who work as domestic helps are forced to go on leave without pay due to Corona virus. Beggars are dying of hunger. It is affecting street animals as well.
HOW QUARANTINE AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH?
In the above section, we read about how quarantine is affecting overall with its both positive and negative aspects. So now we will look into its most important aspect: how it is affecting mental health.
Already people are suffering from uncertainty and stress of global outbreak and in addition to that spending time in quarantine can take a serious mental turn.
Quarantine can impact three key elements of mental health :
The isolation imposed by quarantine frequently leaves people feeling helpless. Even in the era of the Internet they can feel cut off from everyone and it hampers their performance in usual duties.
With schools, offices and colleges closed, workers opting to telecommute, social events cancelled, the prospect of being confined in home can be daunting. At first, everyone enjoyed staying at home but as time passes by and you have been at home for a longer time, it seems like it's been forever. Even while being at home with family the sense of isolation and cabin fever can be very disturbing. The American Psychological Association reports that social isolation carries a number of health risks. Feeling alone can lead to poor sleep, bad cardiovascular health, lower immunity, depressive symptoms and impaired executive function. Impaired executive functional skill can lead to difficulty in focusing, managing emotion, remembering information and following directions.
EFFECTS OF QUARANTINE IN THE PAST.
Even though every situation is unique, looking at past events can give us a rough idea about the psychological impacts of quarantine.
Due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), more than 15000 people in Toronto voluntarily went into quarantine between 2002 and 2004. SARS, like Covid-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a type of coronavirus. Later, research indicated that quarantine individuals experienced a range of both immediate and short term psychological consequences. Just after that people reported longer lasting psychological distress for around a month afterwards. Anout 29% of them displayed the symptoms of PTSD and 31.2% had depressive symptoms. One study found that 29% felt avoided after they have been in quarantine.
POSSIBLE MENTAL HEALTH EFFECTS OF QUARANTINE 2019-20
A 2019 review in The Lancet analysed the result of past quarantine to get a brief idea of how Covid-19 may impact those who are quarantined. Psychological distress can be common both during and after periods of quarantine. Symptoms which people can experience are:
● Post traumatic stress symptom
● Depressive symptoms
● Emotional exhaustion
Substance and alcohol dependency can be common upto 3 years.
However, there are ways by which we can protect our mental health and wellbeing while coping with quarantine.
STEPS TO TAKE FOR COPING
According to the researchers there are three steps that can help mitigate some negative mental health effects of quarantine.
● Establish routine: Due to quarantine everyone has had to face changes in their normal routine. This leaves them with the feeling of being directionless. It becomes the most difficult part as we try to figure out how to fill all the hours of the day. Working from home can be helpful in structuring your time but it can be challenging with other family members.
Therefore, to make it easy plan out activities along with your family, try creating a daily schedule, make your own routine and break up the day in order to stave off monotony.
● Be as active as possible: Short period of physical inactivity can impact a person both mentally and physically. Try different "at-home workout ideas" that can help you to be fit even when stuck in the house.
● Communicate: Staying connected with people would stave boredom as well help in minimising the sense of isolation. Stay in touch with friends and families. Reach out to the people on social media. Talking to others who are stuck in the same situation can be helpful for both.
There are some more steps which can help you cope up with your mental health. The most important is to stay fit and think positive. Getting influenced by fake news and rumours can bring panic so try and avoid those. But yes always stay informed. Quarantine is a periods which is necessary to cope with such epidemics and only we can help ourselves and are responsible for our mental as well as physical health.