The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been host to the largest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases outside China, with at least 621. Public health and bioethics experts caution that such strict quarantines aren’t the best way to contain viruses like the novel COVID-19, and that letting people self-monitor their symptoms at home is a more pragmatic (and civil) approach.
“The quarantine was not justified, and violated the individual rights of the passengers while allowing the virus to literally pick them off one-by-one,” Dr. Amesh Adalja with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told Business Insider in an email. “The 14-day stipulation was meaningless in a context with new infections and new transmission episodes.”
Experts say that quarantines like the Diamond Princess aren’t only useless, they’re also ineffective — and possibly illegal. Bioethicist and Rogue Bioethics co-founder Kelly Hills said that the quarantine on board the Diamond Princess wasn’t just ineffective, it was “absolutely pointless.”
“I don’t think that we have seen enough proof, in any cases, that quarantine is necessary for this particular virus,” she said. “It doesn’t meet what we would consider the minimum standards necessary for violating somebody’s civil rights.” Hills said that self-containment measures at home would be more humane, and ultimately, probably more effective than quarantines for keeping healthy people disease-free.