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What is a quarantine?

"Quarantine" can be defined as all steps taken, both mandatory and voluntary, that restrict the activities of people exposed to a communicable disease.

"Mandatory quarantine" separates (by legal order) people who may have been exposed to the virus from others who have not.

"Voluntary quarantine" refers to members of the public who voluntarily follow restrictions on activities as recommended by their federal, provincial or local health department.

The Medical Officer of Health has the authority under legislation to introduce these types of control steps that could include canceling public gatherings (meetings, social events, etc.) or ordering a mandatory quarantine.

It is generally recommended that anyone infected with the influenza virus during a pandemic should stay at home or be isolated at the hospital.

Other types of Quarantines

It is possible that other steps may be taken to reduce contact with the virus. A short-term quarantine may be used where everyone is asked to stay home for a day or two (similar to everyone taking a "snow day"). More restrictive quarantines are generally used for where all other control steps are believed to be ineffective.

Self-Quarantine In a pandemic, many people or families may choose to "self-quarantine" by staying at home (not go school and work). They will also avoid social contacts such as groups or sports events. Self-quarantine is an effective way to reduce individual and family risk.

Sequestering - Because limiting face-to-face contact is also a proven way to reduce the spread of disease, businesses may consider the unusual option of having groups of essential "core" staff live temporarily either at the workplace or at a nearby hotel.

For more information on quarantines, please see: