What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.

Follow CDC guidance about quarantine and isolation for COVID-19:

  • Quarantine and stay away from others when you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Isolate if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.
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