Coronavirus Terms Defined: Quarantine, Isolation, and Social Distancing


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South Shore Health

As precautions against COVID-19 become more important than ever, the media is filled with terms that you may not be familiar with.

Here's a breakdown of the terms and what they mean.

Social Distancing

Social Distancing measures ask people to remain out of congregate settings such as shopping centers, theaters, stadiums and large gatherings; they are asked to maintain distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible. It may also include working from home and restrictions of travel.


Isolation happens when a person is known to be ill with a contagious disease or are reasonably believed to be infected or potentially infectious and is separated from people who are healthy or uninfected. Separation can be voluntary or compelled by public health order.


People are put in quarantine when they are not currently sick but have been, or may have been exposed to a communicable disease. They are observed for any early signs of the illness. This can help stop the spread of the disease.

All of these measures are an important part of slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Learn more about COVID-19.