We are facing a global public-health crisis in which almost every country in the world is involved. Most countries are experiencing a shortage of medical equipment and need more rapid and generalized testing for Covid-19.
Forced isolation goes hand in hand with preventing health systems across the world from collapsing. It restricts the movements of the entire population of a country without taking into account the varying risks that individuals face.
Studies claim that most patients infected with Covid-19 recover in a matter of days, and only a small number needs to be hospitalized. Only a tiny percentage — the most vulnerable patients — dies. Considering these findings, the idea of protecting and isolating the most vulnerable from death or long-term damage from Covid-19 and treating the rest of society only when they experience other health threats does not sound so far-fetched.
Would it be possible, as some argue, to minimize the threat to the most vulnerable people and maximize the chances for the greatest number of people to safely return to work as soon as possible?
Argentinean President Alberto Fernández and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro have opposing ideas regarding this issue. Argentina has imposed a strict quarantine on the entire population, while in Brazil, Bolsonaro, who compared the pandemic to a cold, has tried to reassure his citizens that nothing would happen if they went out onto the street.
Everyone fears for their loved ones and most would find strict quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the virus somewhat reassuring. Ironically, vulnerable populations could be exposed to greater risk of getting infected during quarantine if they live with suspected patients. It is important that people at risk are isolated from their families, even in their own homes.
No one knows how mass quarantine would affect mental health and family relationships. The growth of gender violence and depression are two risks that could increase in this context.