Talk:Self-isolation after travel

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Relevance to this site[edit]

This subject is certainly topical today, but isn't it by its very nature a non-travel article? Ikan Kekek (talk) 17:14, 14 March 2020 (UTC)

It's relevant, but somewhat tangential I guess. In our culture shock article, we mention about reverse culture shock for people returning home from long stays abroad, so we could also see this article in that light. The dog2 (talk) 18:34, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
OK, I get the analogy. Ikan Kekek (talk) 20:56, 14 March 2020 (UTC)
In January, travel from infested areas was probably the most common reason for self-isolation. How things change in two months. AlasdairW (talk) 22:49, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, I think this is within scope in the same way that Returning home is. It's worth mentioning also that some travelers are having to self-isolate in hotel rooms—I had to do that last month (only for three days, mercifully, because I had already been outside of China for a while).
I'm not sure whether this article will remain relevant/useful after the current crisis is over, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it. —Granger (talk · contribs) 02:09, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

Attention from an expert[edit]

@Doc James: As our resident medical professional, would you mind taking a look at the advice in this article? I find some of it surprising. (For instance, is it really recommended to self-isolate for four days to prevent transmitting the common cold?) —Granger (talk · contribs) 05:21, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

Self isolation is rarely recommended. It is not needed for the common cold as it is not a serious disease. It is not needed for measles as everyone should be vaccinated including the person reading the article. I would narrow this to just diseases for which self isolation has been recommended. Travel Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:23, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
Thank you, that's very helpful. Please let me know if you see anything else that needs improvement. —Granger (talk · contribs) 06:06, 16 March 2020 (UTC)
Everyone "should" be vaccinated against measles, but infants can't get the vaccine, and one in seven children worldwide haven't been vaccinated against it. That means that the possibility of someone traveling without being vaccinated against measles is pretty high, even if you're only counting international travel and not, say, travel within the Ukraine, where anti-vaccination sentiment is high, and where 70% of Europe's measles cases happened last year. I therefore think that measles is a good example of something that a person might need to self-isolate over – or might need to insist that a family member self-isolate over. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:07, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
For a question like this, I think we should rely on advice from medical professionals and health authorities rather than non-specialists trying to reason through what seems plausible. —Granger (talk · contribs) 14:51, 18 May 2020 (UTC)
I agree. The CDC, for example, recommends that when an airline passenger gets diagnosed with measles, that any vulnerable flight crew be banned from working and required to self-isolate during the dates when they could be contagious.[1] California alone quarantined more than a thousand people in 2019 because of measles exposure.
All responsible medical professionals and health authorities say that if you are an unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk person, and you happen to know that you were exposed to measles, that you should get immediately vaccinated, if at all possible, and that you should otherwise self-isolate from days 5 to 21 post-exposure. None of them recommend spreading that virus into a community full of babies, pregnant women, cancer patients, and other high-risk people. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:16, 3 June 2020 (UTC)
Thanks—I think it's reasonable for us to summarize the advice from the CDC. —Granger (talk · contribs) 23:46, 3 June 2020 (UTC)

How long germs will survive[edit]

From the article: "If you use a laundry service, you should check how long the germs will survive"

I haven't been able to find out anywhere how long COVID-19 viruses survive (or, better, remain active) on fabric. Does anyone have a source for that? I'd really love to know! Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:56, 22 March 2020 (UTC)

Both the New Zealand and the Scottish official advice (links at the bottom of the page) say to wait 3 days before taking your laundry to the laundrette. I have seen shorter times elsewhere for fabric and cardboard, and 3 days for hard surfaces. AlasdairW (talk) 23:10, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
So does that mean, then, that my laundry bag, if it touched a metal surface with COVID-19 viruses in it, is still infective for 3 days after I've done the laundry? Ikan Kekek (talk) 23:19, 22 March 2020 (UTC)
The theoretical answer is yes. However:
  • The timeline depends upon the fabric. The virus might survive longer on a solid plastic part than on some fabric or a copper handle.
  • Although theoretically a single viral particle could cause a disease, in practice it usually takes more than that. The coronavirus really wants you to inhale it, so it can land straight on those nice, comfortable lung cells without any risk of being swallowed into the hostile acid bath of your stomach.
  • The number of viable viral particles starts declining pretty much the moment they're coughed out, so whatever you got on the bottom of your laundry bag is already less infective after just one day than it was right after you set your laundry bag down on top of that bit of gunk.
  • The risk of "fomite" transmission in this story was always low, because unless you're in the habit of licking your laundry bag, or sticking it right up your face and breathing in its smells, you'd have to first get the virus on the bag, and then you'd have touch the exact spot(s) on the bag that have the viral particles (e.g., with your hand) to transfer some of them to the outside of your body, and then you'd have to stick that contaminated body part in your face to transfer (some of) them inside your body, which can be done, but isn't necessarily the most likely thing in the world, especially if you wash your hands regularly and try to keep them off your face.
So it's "possible", but it's not the risk that I think epidemiologists would advise anyone to focus on. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:00, 27 March 2020 (UTC)
Got it. Thanks. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:04, 27 March 2020 (UTC)