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Isolation and quarantine are health practices used to protect the public from diseases, particularly communicable ones. They help prevent exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease and have been used globally throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the spread of the disease.
Isolation is for people who are already sick. It separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Isolation is typically more acute than quarantine. It is usually a more routine procedure, where those who have COVID-19 isolate themselves in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Isolation in hospitals also typically applies to those who are at greater risk of dying from a disease.
In many COVID-19 cases, those who test positive may isolate themselves in their homes. If you are cleared to isolate in your house, you are required to remain in your own room; you may not move around your house because you may expose your family members to COVID-19.
On the other hand, quarantine separates and limits the movement of healthy people, or people who were exposed to a contagious disease, so that they do not spread the disease to others. These people may even have been exposed unknowingly, and quarantine works to keep them from spreading the COVID-19.
In addition, quarantine restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to see if they become sick. People in quarantine may stay in their homes or another secluded location. Quarantine typically applies to a broader group of people. Even if you are not sick, under quarantine mandates, you must remain at home for your own safety, as well as the safety of others.
Under both isolation and quarantine, you should not leave your house or enter any public areas. Doing so puts those around you at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. You may only stop isolation if you have had no fever for at least 24 hours, your symptoms have improved, and at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared. Even if you are feeling well, you should remain in quarantine and stay at home for at least 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19, in case your symptoms appear later. You should watch for COVID-19 symptoms throughout quarantine.