Would you agree to quarantine in a “facility”?

There was a good article in The Times last weekend – Coronavirus: The new rhythms of life will jolt and jar as we try to live with this horrible teenager. In particular, I thought it would be good to get people’s thoughts on this quote:

“In Asia we are doing mandatory quarantining,” says Ben Cowling, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at Hong Kong University. “If I am found to have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 I have got 30 minutes to pack and go to a quarantine facility. That’s not going to work in Britain. It’s going to be very difficult to implement.”

If relaxing lockdown rules meant you could potentially be taken away from your home, family, and pets with very little warning would you agree to it? Ben Cowling says it won’t work in Britain and given the reluctance of many just to download a simple app to their phones I tend to agree. But what if quarantine was attractive? What if it was two weeks in a five-star hotel with a gym, swimming pool, Netflix, all meals provided, and unlimited supplies of chocolate? Would that change your mind?

Asian countries have some cultural advantages. I was recently wondering how Korea is managing school closures long-term. Who is looking after the children at home? A quick search reveals that just over half of Korean mothers are working compared with over three-quarters of mothers in the UK. There’s also more of a culture of having family members care for each other and for extended families to live under the same roof. This means when both parents work there are grandparents around to care for the children making it possible to close schools long-term. They also don’t have care homes and retirement villages – I don’t think – which seem to be incubators for the virus.


10 thoughts on “Would you agree to quarantine in a “facility”?”

  1. What if it was two weeks in a five-star hotel with a gym, swimming pool, Netflix, all meals provided, and unlimited supplies of chocolate?

    Where do I sign? 😀

  2. I think perhaps 24 hours notice should be provided to prepare for quarantine. Or, perhaps we should all have pre-packed bags. I’d be happy with a nice hotel room, providing meals & free tv. I think we’d have to be limited to our own rooms though, to reduce infectivity risk to staff. Also would you know at that point if you definitely have the virus or just taking cautionary action? Also, if everyone was tested positive, I wonder whether mixing together could increase viral load & potentially severity of symptoms – I don’t know. I love the idea of having a pleasant environment to encourage compliance to quarantining.

    1. It would be nice if everyone who tested positive could mingle. That would be a bonus in my view. It would be hard to sit in a room alone for two weeks.

  3. If everyone knew that was the situation, we could all have bags packed in case, however it’s not just that we are less compliant, I think it’s that we would don’t have much faith in centralised systems, such as quaratine. We know that most centrally run systems in this country are underfunded and we would worry that the facility would be not very nice/we might not get looked after very well. I know it looks like a throwaway question about the hotels but it’s actually quite pertinent. My Chinese student had no problem about the idea of staying in a quarantine centre overnight, she assumed it would be serviceable!
    I wonder if it’s a vicious circle – the less reliable the central services provided, the less compliant the population?

    1. I assume we’d have to stay in the quarantine facility for two weeks so quite a bit longer than just overnight. I think the UK did this at the beginning of the epidemic for returning Brits who had been on a cruise or in Wuhan. I seem to remember people coming back to Britain and then having to go into a facility for two weeks. From memory, I think they said they were well looked after. But I don’t think they had any choice and it might be a different matter if the entire population had to do it.

      For me, the objection is I wouldn’t want to be separated from my family but I would comply to keep them safe.

  4. There are care homes in South Korea, mostly to serve older people with no families or younger relatives to look after them. I think the attitude behind the care is different from Western nations, however. In East Asia, the care homes, some of which resemble boarding houses with live-in staff, are regarded as proxy family for their residents rather than nursing institutions. I’ve seen news stories about the residences in Japan; the people who run them really regard their patients as ‘aunties’ and ‘grandmas.’

    I agree with the above comment about distrust in centralized government/services causing people to feel they don’t have to comply with orders to quarantine. While many of the poorer areas of the US depend on federally funded programs to provide health care and family services, the residents there often do not trust government and have been the most resistant to self-quarantine and social distancing. It may be they’ve had bad experiences with these services —many federal programs are underfunded and understaffed—so they feel they can do better by themselves; but ironically, they’re the ones most likely to suffer the most if they get sick, due to pre-existing medical conditions and poor access to health services. I would have no problems going into quarantine as long as somebody provided food and other services I normally go out for (chocolate would be a big bonus!), but I also think I’m lucky to have received a good education with a strong background in science. The more you understand why you’re doing something, however uncomfortable or inconvenient, the more willing you are to make sacrifices.

    1. Yes, having an education and understanding the why is definitely important. I can also see that mistrust of the government would make people less likely to comply, especially if they think they’re going to be locked up and the key thrown away.

  5. Wasn’t there a suggestion that the increased incidence of COVID-19 in BAME people in the UK was in part due to a tendency to live in multi-generational households ? The implication was that younger members of the family were passing it on older members within the family home…

    1. Yes, I wondered about that but if kids aren’t going to school then they’re not going to pick it up and give it to their grandparents so I guess this is all the more reason to keep schools closed. Same with universities.

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