Coronavirus: Scientists discover factors that make people stick to a quarantine


Coronavirus: With a third of the world said to be on some form of lockdown, scientists have investigated the factors that encourage people to stick to a quarantine.

The coronavirus is said to have emerged at a seafood and live animal market in the Chinese city Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, at the end of last year.

It has since spread into more than 170 countries across every inhabited continent, with over 787,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak was identified. In severe incidences, the virus can lead to a respiratory disease called COVID-19.

To stem the spread of transmission, officials around the world have introduced enforcements that only allow residents to leave their home to buy essentials or for exercise, with socialising and non-essential travel as good as banned.

Concerned many may struggle to stick to the draconian measures, scientists from King’s College London analysed 14 studies on adherence to quarantines during an infectious outbreak.

They found people were more likely to stick to a lockdown if they had “knowledge” about the infection, understood the benefits of quarantining and had the supplies required for a prolonged stay indoors.

Boris Johnson has introduced unprecedented enforcements that only allow Britons to leave their home for “very limited purposes”, like “shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible”.

Anyone with the virus’s tell-tale fever or cough has been told to isolate entirely for seven days, with other members of their household doing the same for two weeks.

Letters have also gone out to 1.5 million vulnerable Britons, like those with severe asthma or blood cancer, telling them to stay indoors for the next three months.

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Results suggest people are more likely to stick to a quarantine if they understand its “procedure” and the risks of the infection it is protecting them from.

When five schools in Australia were closed during a flu outbreak, a lack of clear quarantine instructions led to some “inventing their own rules” based on what they deemed an “acceptable degree of contact”.

A village affected by Ebola in west Africa became more compliant when they began to notice the spread of the infection was slowing.

Residents of several Senegalese villages also stuck to a quarantine against Ebola when they learnt asymptomatic patients can spread the disease.

Making quarantine a “social norm” was also found to be effective.

For example, people quarantined in parts of Canada during the outbreak of fellow coronavirus strain severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2002/3 were more likely to adhere to it if they were pressured to do so by their peers.

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