Niloofar Qureshi

Coronavirus and Quarantine

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Returning after a trip, everyone wants to reach home the earliest so that they can meet family members, relatives and friends. However, due to the requirement of staying in quarantine to prevent coronavirus from spreading, a traveler today has wait for at least two weeks before he/she can go home.

This delay in meeting near and dear ones is very agonising but unavoidable and one of the ways to bear with it is to realise that your sacrifice of 14 days in isolation could prevent others from catching this infection. And since this pandemic is responsible for thousands of fatalities world-wide, and still incurable as of today, all of us must respond responsibly!

Unfortunately, there have been some cases of people avoiding quarantine by using unfair means like not giving correct travel details or not following self-quarantine guidelines properly. Such acts are a crime against society because a single positive case of coronavirus can ultimately be responsible for infecting thousands.

To illustrate this let’s take a typical example: Coronavirus takes approximately 5-7 days to infect an individual. Thus, if one positive case of coronavirus comes in contact with 10 people and infects them, then after 5-7 days we will have 10 positive coronavirus cases. And if they in turn infect 10 people each then in about two weeks, we have a total number of 100 Covid-19 cases. And if this trend continues unchecked, then in just two and a half weeks, the total number of people with coronavirus will soar to 1,000 people and this chain will go on — all because of one infected person!

A person suffering from chickenpox or measles can easily be identified by rashes on the body, which serves as a warning to others to stay away and thus avoid being infected. However, a person infected by Covid-19 virus doesn’t show any physical signs and thus, both the carrier of this virus as well as those who come in contact with the infected person are unaware of the looming threat of its transmission. And since the Covid virus attacks the body very quickly and doesn’t have a cure, the chances of a patient dying because of this infection are very high.

Therefore, anyone who develops cough accompanied with fever and experiences tiredness or difficulty in breathing should get tested and as a precaution go in for a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days at home. Health officials have estimated that coronavirus symptoms manifest in 5.1 days and therefore the universally accepted quarantine period is 14 days. However, some cases have come to light in which people under quarantine have developed Covid-19 symptoms even after 14 days. Thus, in case a patient develops symptoms of coronavirus towards the termination of 14 days quarantine, then his/her stay has perforce to be extended.

However, rather than understanding the scientific reason for doing so and appreciating this additional precaution for preventing spread of Covid-19, some elements are trying to create fear, confusion and dissent in the minds of the people by saying that extension of quarantine duration is an intentional act to inconvenience people. And this is not the first time that misinformation on health issues is being spread, as the same thing happened decades ago when the national polio eradication programme was launched. It was then rumoured that the polio vaccine was actually a drug that caused impotency that was intended to be administered to gradually deplete Muslim population in India.

Even though some clerics fell for this propaganda out of ignorance or due to some other reasons and a few even issued ‘fatwas’ (edicts) against administration of polio drops to the Muslim children, rationalists within the community placed facts before the people and convinced them of the advantages. Due to this, Muslims enthusiastically participated in this programme.

Similarly, even though some clerics in Kashmir did say things that violated social distancing norms necessary for stopping spread of coronavirus, the public has shown commendable maturity and wisdom in disregarding such suggestions.

Quarantine is not a new concept in Islam as is evident from words of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) that “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if there is a plague outbreak in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.” With such clarity on the issue of going into quarantine voluntarily during a pandemic in Islam, isn’t it incorrect for a true Muslim to avoid the same by using foul means or spreading rumours of it being a plan to inconvenience people?

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