How to 'quarantine' a quarantine team more safely

How to 'quarantine' a quarantine team more safely

In recent weeks, many of us have begun to look at quarantine steaming, where two isolated households join together, either for social purposes or to meet specific needs. The adults who move back to their elderly parents, who have difficulty coping on their own, the families who have to exchange childcare: This trend, also known as the "quarantine bubble" or "quarantine pod", has been touted as one of the ways to combat quarantine fatigue and solve some of the problems associated with long-term isolation.

But how safe is quarantine steaming really? When two families or households think about it, what factors do they need to weigh up before making the decision? As with all things pandemic, this is one of those situations where the risks and benefits must be weighed very carefully, and all parties must agree on the same rules before starting quarantine steaming.

"There are many levels of complexity," says S. Wesley Long, Medical Director of Diagnostic Microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital "It's all about who comes into contact with whom and what they do to reduce the risk.

As with anything apparently related to a pandemic, there are many factors to consider. It may be that the safest option is not the one you initially expect.

Consider the risk profile of everyone involved
If someone in the quarantine steam regime poses a high risk, the decision must be taken all the more seriously.

"Some of this depends on the individual risk assessment," says Long. "Are you a high risk? Is there someone high-risk living in your household? That increases the risk."

The risk profile also includes the potential vulnerability of each individual within the relationship. Two families with adults who both work at home and who are very careful to take all the necessary precautions will have a very different risk profile than two families where the adults work in workplaces that force them to leave home and interact with many different people.

If some or all of the adults work in workplaces with exposure potential, it becomes "an exponential risk calculation," says Long.

Communication is crucial

As anyone who has ever lived with a roommate can attest, managing the ongoing housing conditions can be tricky. Whether it's disagreements over what to eat together, acceptable noise levels, or who is responsible for cleaning the dirty dishes, two people can have very different ideas about what constitutes considerate behaviour and what does not. The same is true for two families who do not intend to live together, but who may be considering quarantine fumes and who will spend a long time in the other person's home.
"Are they all on the same page when it comes to social distance and what is ok and what is not ok? says Long.
Instead of disagreements about whether it's okay to eat the leftovers from the roommates or who's responsible for the dirty dishes, this could include disagreements about what actions and behaviour pose an acceptable risk. If everyone is not on the same side, things could quickly get out of hand, with each person taking the same risks as the most lax member of the group.

Weigh the alternatives

The risk is on a spectrum, which means that it is important to think about what the relative risks of the alternatives will be. If you have the choice of sending your child to a daycare centre that has strict procedures, or swapping childcare with a family whose parents work in a high-risk environment, choosing the safer option may be more difficult than you expect. The same could also be true for older parents moving in with adult children: What if the choice is between hiring a home help who works only in one apartment and moving in with adult children whose jobs expose them to a higher risk of exposure?

Before making plans for a quarantine team, it is important to think about the possible alternatives and assess the relative risks of all options.

Do you have a plan in case someone gets sick
Before decisions on quarantine steaming are taken, it is essential to formulate a plan, which in the case of an eruption of the quarantine, must be