Meanwhile, Parmet said, quarantines like the ones implemented in China against coronavirus limit access to supplies, food and (ironically) medical care. We might never know how many people died from coronavirus versus other things,” she said. “The diabetes patients who can’t get insulin. The cancer patients who can’t get medications. The most dangerous thing is a badly run quarantine.”
In the longer term, more hospital beds and legislation that ensures paid sick days can help lessen the impact of a contagious disease outbreak. But in the meantime, communication strategies can help mitigate unproductive panic. There should be direct dialogue about why border closures don’t work, pointing to the extensive evidence and examples of past outbreaks where such measures were ineffective or even placed the international community at greater risk. Xenophobic reactions and racist fear mongering must be addressed head-on, with messages that aim to defuse these kinds of sentiments and tensions.