By PROF. DR. HALIMU SHAURI
(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)
It is apparent that we have not gotten the gist of the meaning or philosophy on some of the behavior change measures in respect to the fight against COVID-19!
Reports are rife of violations of the very philosophy around quarantine, self or mandatory, as an approach to contain the spread of COVID-19.
More precisely, we have been told in the media that some people sneaked in and out of a quarantine centre in Mandera for example.
I don’t want to believe this happens in Mandera only! What about the other quarantine centres around the country? What about those in self quarantine?
The fact that we have not known or the patients have not been caught should not delude us to think it does not happen in other scenarios.
The revelation that the sneaking out is aided by security and staff of quarantine centres is a mockery of the whole idea behind quarantine.
HIDE AND SEEK
Suspected potential COVID-19 patients have taken quarantine as a hide and seek game, while quite a number of the confirmed cases have come from these centres.
This should be a lesson to those in quarantine:
“From contact tracing to quarantine to confirm COVID-19 patient…what lesson do you want better than those who got confirmed from these centres?”
You are wondering whether those who got confirmed had been infected probably before quarantine!
I would tell you for free some are infected in quarantine based on the way they behave. “Because they are already in quarantine, they think they are immune to COVID-19!”
Some think by staying in quarantine you don’t need to continue following the COVID-19 preventive measures.
More precisely, they don’t wash hands, they touch surfaces without sanitizing and they don’t keep social distance, by some even becoming intimate in quarantine, surely! Some hold parties or visit each other in their quarantine rooms.
These and many more weird habits will cost us big time as covered in my earlier article on Kenyans weird habits in the face of COVID-19 mitigation.
Allow me to shade some light on the philosophy and purpose of quarantine. First though allow me to answer the question what is quarantine?
Quarantine is a restriction on the movement of people and goods which are 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 may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis.
Thus, it’s clear why we have quarantine during this time of COVID-19.
Accordingly, the main purpose of quarantine is to control the spread of an epidemic such as COVID-19.
It can be practiced at personal level, called self-quarantine or group level as in quarantine centres, called group-quarantine or to involve everybody, called mass-quarantine as it happened in China and other European countries in the face of COVID-19.
In this regard, it helps to contain the spread of the pandemic. However,
“quarantine is not a substitute for non-infection of those observing it…we should know we are still susceptible to COVID-19 infection even in quarantine, self, group or mass quarantine”.
What should we do then? My advice is we continue and even upscale our behavior change during quarantine periods. Upscale! Why? Because when you are in quarantine, your chances or probability or odds of getting infected are even higher.
Why would you observe the guidelines COVID-19 guidelines religiously outside quarantine to violet them in high risk areas like quarantine centres!
Thus, we must keep washing hands, sanitize and strictly maintain social distance, meaning stay in your room. Thus,
“While those outside quarantine centres are encouraged to stay at home, I encourage those in quarantine to stay in their rooms…this is the only way quarantine would be meaningful”
I also advise the government through the national COVID-19 committee to ensure that people in quarantine are made aware and educated on why they are in quarantine. I say,
“… Assuming that being sent into a quarantine centre one will automatically behave accordingly is defeatist to the very purpose of quarantining”.
Let’s develop quarantine protocols, share with those in quarantine, have morning briefs and possible evening debriefs with the quarantine inmates and let’s make the centres more humane, habitable and comfortable as possible, etc not make them looked like laces of condemned people or mini-prisons!
Let’s equip the centres with necessary infrastructure that can enable people be productive while in quarantine.
Above all clear COVID-19 Quarantine Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) must be developed, if not there, published and shared with all, those in and outside such centres.
Quarantine has helped China Flatten the COVID-19 Curve …