Isolation, quarantine, social distancing and community containment: pivotal role for old-style public health measures in the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak

J Travel Med. 2020 Mar 13;27(2):taaa020. doi: 10.1093/jtm/taaa020.


Public health measures were decisive in controlling the SARS epidemic in 2003. Isolation is the separation of ill persons from non-infected persons. Quarantine is movement restriction, often with fever surveillance, of contacts when it is not evident whether they have been infected but are not yet symptomatic or have not been infected. Community containment includes measures that range from increasing social distancing to community-wide quarantine. Whether these measures will be sufficient to control 2019-nCoV depends on addressing some unanswered questions.

Keywords: COVID-19; MERS; SARS; Wuhan; coronavirus; pandemic preparedness.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Isolation
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Public Health*
  • Quarantine
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vulnerable Populations