Is 14 days long enough?

There are speculations surrounding the incubation period of the novel coronavirus. Many are convinced that two weeks is not enough, as new studies indicate that it takes some people much longer to develop symptoms after they are exposed to the disease.

At home, the second person to test positive was confirmed 28 days after coming into contact with her 76-year-old partner. This caused more doubts about the duration of the mandatory quarantine. What if the woman was allowed to leave after 14 days?

The doubts heightened after the guide and the driver, both first contacts, were immediately called back for mandatory quarantine. Both tested negative after the fourth test.

The joint committee of the Parliament is recommending the government to increase the quarantine period. There are people calling for the same.

The incubation period is a critical factor in controlling the spread of the disease. Although the World Health Organisation estimated the incubation period of Covid-19 to be up to 14 days, the upper limit was based on observation of a small number of SARS cases. With the outbreak now going beyond control, many, based on research and analysis, are recommending extension of the quarantine period, especially for adults to 21 days.

The partner maybe an outliner, but scientists have found that nearly 1 in 8 patients had incubation times longer than 14 days, leading them to question whether current quarantine recommendations are optimal.

Another key factor, experts are considering, is the time between the infection and becoming infectious or positive. This was found to be happening shorter or longer than the incubation period, implying that an asymptomatic person, like the partner of the American tourist, may be able to transmit the virus even if not tested positive.

Experts are still exploring the transmission dynamics of the Covid-19. Considering the doubts, many suggest effective quarantine management – top on the list is increasing the quarantine period.

Much remains unknown about how the virus is transmitted. Given our shortage of expertise both in research and resources, it is wise to consider the findings of new studies and recommendations. Our focus today is still on preventive care. We are fortunate that not a single Bhutanese tested positive. All this while we believed that prevention is our best treatment.

It may cause inconvenience to those quarantined. But words coming from the quarantine facilities are encouraging. Many are convinced that quarantining is a preventive measure and not a detention centre to punish people.

They care for their family, relatives, parents, the community and the nation. There are cooperating and appreciating the measure the government, with His Majesty The King’s guidance, has taken in safeguarding the country and its people.

We are also fortunate that most quarantined are in facilities that are better than many facilities around the world. The mental stress and the loneliness can be understood, but given the risks of the pandemic, it is a small sacrifice. And most understand it.

There are ways to make those in quarantine feel at home. One common complaint is on the free meals served. We could improve the quality for the big sacrifices they make.

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