Have you ever been quarantined? Perhaps you are even in an isolation room right now. It is not fun. Unfortunately, it is necessary, especially if you have caught COVID-19. The world is still dealing with the global pandemic, which continues with no clear end in sight. However, let’s check out some fun facts about quarantine to make things less scary!
Did you know about the origin of quarantine? How did the world deal with pandemics back in the old days? By learning fun facts about quarantine, you can feel more relaxed. After all, when you deal with unfamiliarity, you will feel fear. So, learning about quarantine will prepare you mentally if you need to do it. Plus, learning about history is fun, and we can find out a lot of fun anecdotes from the past.
1. First Quarantine in The World
Have you ever heard of the Black Death? The super deadly bubonic plague wiped off a large chunk of the European population. In fact, around 50% of Europe died in the 1300s because of that diseases. There was no effective cure. Almost every major city in Europe was struggling with massive casualties.
As a result, in 1377, a port city called Ragusa, which was under Italian rule, passed legislation that required incoming ships to be quarantined. Passengers were not allowed to disembark for 30 days, known as the Trentino. The regulation then changed to extend the quarantine period, which we will discuss in the next point.
2. First Permanent Plague Hospital
We must be grateful that our healthcare infrastructure is way better than in the 1300s. However, despite advanced technology, we should not forget that millions of people have died because of COVID-19. Imagine if this disease happened in ancient times, humanity might have extinct.
However, we should not underestimate people in the Middle Ages. They did invent an isolation hospital to respond to the Black Death plague. In 1423, the Republic of Venice created a permanent isolation hospital known as Lazarettos. It was located on the tiny remote island of Santa Maria di Nazareth.
The island was far enough away from centers of habitation. The distance helps restrict the spread of disease. However, it is close enough to transport the sick. Lazarettos consisted of buildings used to isolate ship passengers and crew in ports. Those who had or were suspected of having plague were isolated in that hospital.
3. The Origin of the Word Quarantine
Based on the first fact, we learned that the first quarantine protocol was implemented in the small Italian port city of Ragusa. Incoming ships were required to keep anchoring for 30 days before anyone was allowed to get off. The 30 days quarantine period was known as the Trentino.
However, according to historians, the quarantine period was extended to 40 days if the doctors and port officials deemed it necessary. The 40 days quarantine period was called the Quaranta. As a result, now we have the word quarantine derived from the Italian words! At that time, 40 days of quarantine was the norm. After all, Jesus was fasting for 40 days, and Noah’s flood also lasted for 40 days.
4. First English Quarantine Regulation
While Ragusa and Venice had to deal with the bubonic plague early on, it was not until 1663 that the English authority implemented a quarantine regulation. The government back then provided confinement in the Thames river estuary for suspected ships that might carry plague.
During that period, the Great Plague of London was just starting. From 1665 to 1666, a quarter of London’s city population, around 100,000 people, died because of the Black Death. It was so devastating and created a widespread effect that lasted for centuries.
5. Way to Prevent Outbreaks
As we said before, quarantine is necessary to prevent outbreaks. Whether the disease is naturally occurring or intentionally, quarantine is one of the most rapid and effective public health tools that can be used to curb the speed of infection. However, it needs to be combined with reporting, identification, contact tracing, and other measures.
Quarantine does not only help to stop naturally occurring diseases. It is also excellent for curbing the spread of infection when biological warfare happens. Enemies might weaponize dangerous biologic agents like Ebola fever, Bubonic plague, or Smallpox.
6. Law for Quarantine
In the USA, under 42 Code of Federal Regulations parts 70 and 71, CDC is authorized to detain, medically examine, and release persons arriving into the United States and traveling between states suspected of carrying these infectious diseases. CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A similar organization might have a similar role in a different country. Nevertheless, each region has its own policies. So, you should check the regulation before you visit. Some countries may impose a quarantine period before you can travel within its area.
7. The Understanding of the Universe in Isolation
Like quarantine, isolation refers to restrictions placed on persons who show symptoms and signs of infection with a contagious disease. And did you know that Isaac Newton once did isolation? During the Great Plague of London, which ravaged London starting in 1665, he was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge. At that time, he was a 23-year-old man.
While he was doing the ‘isolation’ by himself, he showed that white light comprises all spectrum components. It was a discovery to the understanding of planets and stars. It also led to the inception of astronomical spectroscopy.
8. Quarantine After Landing on The Moon
Here is another fun fact about quarantine! Did you know that astronaut was quarantined before NASA sent them to the Moon? It was the iconic Apollo 11 astronauts that underwent such protocol. The procedure was an act of prevention. The quarantined astronauts would have been safe from potential infectious diseases during their journey to the Moon.
When they returned to the Earth, the astronauts went into a quarantine chamber once again. The scientists wanted to ensure that the astronauts didn’t bring infectious space diseases. It would have been disastrous if a pandemic of lunar origin were to happen. Fortunately, later, we know that Moon is devoid of life.
9. Novel That is Written on Isolation
The following fun fact about quarantine will discuss novel writing! Yes, apparently, an act of isolation can spark a birth of a new idea. For instance, during the cholera epidemic in 1816, Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley decided to get away to isolate themselves from the deadly disease.
While they were isolated, the two read ghastly horror stories. It was the best way to kill time for such long isolation, right? Suddenly, it inspires her to write a new novel! The novel is Frankenstein. The story was basically the first classic gothic horror sci-fi novel that inspires many writers even today.
10. Two Quarantine Flags
Here is a fun fact about quarantine history that you need to know! Back in the day, ships will use flags to convey or signal some message. Because ships were the main public transportation, paying attention to the plague was essential. Hence, sailors come up with flags that signify quarantine.
A ship arriving at a port under enforced quarantine should fly an international signal flag LIMA. It was also known as ‘Yellow Jack’. It comes in two colors, yellow and black. Furthermore, the yellow flag has apparently influenced some cultures. For example, whenever a person is deceased in Jakarta, the family will fly yellow flags as a marker.
11. Food and Drink Pick Up During Social Distancing
During the Italian Plague of 1629-1631, there was a time that the wealthy citizens of Tuscany devised an ingenious way to sell off the contents of their wine cellars. They sold the wine indirectly, without entering the presumably infected streets.
They exchanged the goods through narrow door windows, allowing wine sellers to pass their wares to wait for the customers. Furthermore, the seventeenth-century wine sellers even used vinegar as a disinfectant. They used it when they accepted the payment. There were over 150 wine windows in the city of Florence. Then 400 years later, those windows were still helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve customers!
12. First Large Quarantine Facility
Nowadays, quarantine facilities are everywhere. It can be a housing complex, hotels, hospitals, or even ordinary houses. But back in the day, before vaccine technology existed, people built extensive facilities for quarantine. Isolation hospitals and sanatoriums were popping out to anticipate the new plague.
One of the most extensive quarantine facilities includes a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was experimental facilities that allowed patients to receive all the treatments required. The building was created in the mountainous region and allowed ill people to breathe fresh air.
13. The Disbelief of Quarantine
No matter what era we live in, apparently, some people always deny that pandemics could be threatening. As an example, we had a lot of protests against COVID-19 protocols and wearing masks. There are even those who defied quarantine protocols.
Back in 1835, during the chlorella pandemic, some people also didn’t believe that the disease could spread. They are also known as the Anticontagionists. These people complained that quarantine was a relic of the past, useless, and damaging to commerce. They also didn’t like travel restrictions as a result of cordon sanitary.
Have you ever heard about Quasi-Quarantine? It is one of the most unique fun facts about quarantine! This happened in the city of Toronto in Canada. In fact, that place was under a quasi-quarantine after the World Health Organization (WHO) put it on a list of three destinations people should avoid. It is caused by SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
The Independent reported in 2003 that WHO recommends ‘that persons planning to travel to these destinations consider postponing all but essential travel’. Over 30,000 people were voluntarily quarantined. Involuntary quarantine would be very difficult to enforce in mass disease outbreaks.
15. Voluntary Quarantine
As we said before, involuntary quarantine can be very difficult in mass disease outbreaks. But in Toronto, Canada, in 2003, voluntary quarantine was used effectively. The action was able to minimize or even stop the spread of SARS. At that time, people in Canada were voluntarily quarantined.
The first phase of the outbreak in Toronto affected healthcare workers, patients, and their visitors at four hospitals. The second phase occurred primarily among the workers and visitors of a single hospital ward. The provincial government then sought and obtained the public’s cooperation. Out of 30,000 people, only 27 required an actual written quarantine order.