Do You Know The Origins Of "Quarantine"?

  • 20 Apr 2020

Of late, we have been hearing the term quarantine often, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

But do you know that the concept, which refers to the restriction on the movement of people and goods to prevent the spread of disease,dates back to ancient times?

Persian polymath Ibn Sina (known in the west as Avicenna), who lived between the years 980 and 1037, had doubted that there were few diseases that get transmitted by microorganisms, and found that self-distancing the public for 40 days was a way to prevent the spread of the diseases. 

The scholar, regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of early modern medicine, had named this method as "Al-Arba'in Iya", meaning forty days. 

Merchants from Venice adopted the concept and termed it quarantena, which translates into forty days in the Italian language. It was used at a period when ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death epidemic in the 14th century. 

The success of quarantine measures in containing contagious diseases has led the term's survival throughout centuries, until today. 

In modern medicine, the duration of sanitary isolation may not refer to the initial 40 days, but the root concept remains. 

Today, a large of the part of the world are under some form of quarantine, due to the spread of the COVID-19. 

Globally, the novel coronavirus has affected more than 2.4 million people and killed over 165,000. 

Source:, wikipedia
Photo source: shutterstock,

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