Locked up for Everyone’s Good

The joy and relief of travellers released from quarantine following their arrival from overseas, speaks to the unpleasant experience of confinement.

A review of the literature by Brooks et.al. (2020) summarises the psychological impact of quarantine and concludes that the impact is wide-ranging, substantial, and potentially long lasting and includes post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. During quarantine the stressors identified include duration, fear of infection, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies and inadequate information. Post quarantine stressors are primarily financial as a result of the interruption of earning capacity and stigmatisation and rejection by neighbours. The authors recommend that where quarantine is required, as it currently is, it should be no longer than necessary and people should be given a clear rationale, information about protocols and adequate supplies.

In addition, it may be helpful to appeal to altruism by reminding the community of the public health benefits of quarantine.

Brooks, S., R Webster, R., Smith, L., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., and Rubin, G. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence Lancet 2020; 395: 912–20