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vol.110 issue6Criminalisation of transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A potential challenge to controlling the outbreak in South AfricaLeadership and early strategic response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic at a COVID-19 designated hospital in South Africa author indexsubject indexarticles search
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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


BOTES, W M  and  THALDAR, D W. COVID-19 and quarantine orders: A practical approach. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2020, vol.110, n.6, pp.1-4. ISSN 2078-5135.

Quarantine is a very effective method for containing the spread of highly infectious diseases in large populations during a pandemic, but it is only effective if properly implemented. The co-operation and compliance of people entering quarantine are critical to its success. However, owing to the isolating and social distancing nature of quarantine, it often leads to extreme economic hardship and shortages in basic needs such as food, medicine, water and communication - and to the curtailment of certain universal social norms such as attending a parent's funeral. To escape these hardships, people often refuse to enter voluntary quarantine, or breach quarantine rules. In these circumstances, health authorities are obliged to act in the best interests of the public and obtain court orders to force some people into quarantine. In further extreme circumstances, when a national lockdown is ordered, non-compliance with quarantine measures may result in arrests and penalties. The scope of this article is limited to the period prior to and following such a lockdown, during which quarantine may still be vital for the containment of COVID-19. Because a quarantine order will deprive an individual of his or her freedom, this must be carefully balanced with the public interest. This article explains the legal and ethical considerations of this balancing exercise and provides practical guidance for obtaining quarantine orders.

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