Pandemic Flu and Social Distancing Terminology

Everyone has heard of pandemic flu and the devastation that can occur. If and when this happens, we as a community will need to be prepared. A big part of being prepared is to understand the information given out. There are terms and phrases that are likely going to be used in a pandemic situation. The following is a list of terms and definitions that you may hear in a pandemic.

In the case of a pandemic, people will need to keep a safe distance from one another to prevent the spread of a contagious illness. The idea is to control the spread of the disease before everyone in a community is infected.

Isolation: Isolation is the separation of a person who is sick and has a contagious disease from people who are not sick or infected.

Quarantine: Quarantine is the separation of people who have been exposed to an illness, but who are not yet sick themselves. A person may be quarantined at home or in a separate facility. Quarantine is done to prevent the continued spreading of the infectious disease. During a flu pandemic, quarantine applies from the time you are exposed to a person who is contagious up to 10 days after contact.

Working Quarantine: This is a special quarantine for health care providers and other essential workers who must go to work because they provide a necessary service. However, they must also follow orders of quarantine when not at work. Monitoring of symptoms before going to work is usually required.

Quarantine of Groups of Exposed Persons: This is a quarantine of people who have been exposed to the same source of illness. An example of this is a case of influenza spread at a public gathering, on a train, at a school, etc. This group of people would be quarantined.

Community-Wide Quarantine: This is the closing of community borders to create a barrier around a geographic area. Cordon Sanitaire is the technical term for the barrier. When cordon sanitaire is in place, travel in or out of the area is prohibited.

Passive Monitoring: A person who is placed under quarantine is asked to monitor their symptoms twice a day and to contact the health department or a designated person immediately if flu symptoms develop.

Active Monitoring: A person who is placed in quarantine is monitored on a regular basis by a health care worker for symptoms that may indicate influenza. This is done at least once a day and can be done by phone or in person. Restrictions on movement may be voluntary or legally required. Confinement will be at home or in a designated facility.

Social Distancing is a set of actions that apply to groups rather than individuals. These actions help to control the spread of illness by minimizing the chance of groups coming in close contact with one another. The following are types of Social Distancing:

Self-Shielding: This refers to one's own choice to avoid infected people. This includes not going to work or school or to the public places (i.e. the mall).

Snow Days: This is when schools, offices, and transportation systems are closed or cancelled because of infectious illness, much like if there were a major storm.

Cancellation of Public Events: In this case, sporting events, concerts, plays, etc. would be cancelled to reduce interaction between ill and healthy people.

Closure of Office Buildings, Schools, Recreational Facilities (swimming pools, gyms, clubs, etc.), Shopping Malls, and Public Transportation: These actions are applied to stop the spread of illness within specific buildings.

These are important terms to know in the case of pandemic. Everyone can be a part of preventing and fighting pandemic by being prepared.

































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