COVID-19: Is 14 Days Enough For Quarantine?

After studying patients with the infection, the answer seems clearer.

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Like I have said before, fear and ignorance are the true enemies in this current outbreak of coronavirus (or SARS-CoV 2, as it is called in the medical community). And so, the most accurate, up to date information is critical.

There is a pressing question as to whether a 14 day quarantine is enough for patients who either have the virus and are not sick, or those who have been exposed to the virus. This is especially important with respect to physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. New research suggests that 14 days is indeed the right number.

Researchers used the data from public reports of 101 confirmed cases around the world. They estimated that the median incubation period (meaning, the time from exposure to the development of infection) is 5.2 days, with 97.5% of those who develop symptoms do so within 10.5 days. They also mentioned that, under what they called “conservative assumptions,” 64 out of every 10,000 cases will develop symptoms after 14 days of active monitoring or quarantine.

To me, this is good news. First of all, if the numbers are correct, a tiny minority of patients will develop symptoms. Further, it seems the 14 day incubation period is indeed correct, and most people who get sick will get sick sooner than that. This is very important to know for those who lead healthcare teams and need to determine how long health care professionals need to be out of commission in case of exposure. While 14 days is a long time, it is much better than 28 days, as some estimates mentioned early on.

This situation is evolving daily, if not hourly, and more information will continue to come out. The more we know, the better equipped we will be to deal with this crisis. And the less prone to panic we will become. This is absolutely critical.

NY Times featured Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist | Physician Leader | Author and Blogger | His latest book is “Code Blue,” a medical thriller.

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