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Quarantine station of a hospital in Kinshasa (1976)

The quarantine ( Germany : [ karanˈtɛːnə ]; Austria : [ karanˈteːnɛ ], [ karanˈteːn ] or [ kv ~ ]; Switzerland also: [ kʊ̯aranˈtɛːnə ]) is an officially ordered isolation of people , animals or to protect a society from infectious diseases Plants that are suspected of having certain infectious diseases or of being carriers of these diseases. When animals and plants are imported, quarantine is also provided preventively in the import regulations of the respective country to exclude the spread of the disease . The duration of the quarantine depends on the incubation period of the suspected disease. Quarantine is a very complex, but also very effective epidemic hygiene measure that is used in particular for highly contagious diseases with a high mortality rate.


In general, the term is used for temporary isolation. The word “quarantine” came into German in the 17th century like Italian quarantena from French quarantaine de jours (“forty days”). The French word quarantaine was derived in the 12th century from Gallo-Roman quarranta , which comes from Latin quadraginta ("forty") via folk Latin . A travel ban for people suspected of having a disease - Venice banned entry to the port for ships suspected of having a plague as early as 1374 - was known in Italy as quaranta giorni (forty days). The Spanish expression “la cuarentena” also describes the isolation of mothers and their newborns for a certain period of time. The custom of forty days of seclusion can also be found in Lev 12.1–8  EU . In the 19th century, another common word for quarantine was Kontumaz (lat. Contumacia , dt. Defiance, pride , obstinacy , stubbornness). In the field of maritime shipping, quarantine describes the waiting time of ships before living beings, goods and other goods are allowed to be imported. During the Cuban Missile Crisis , the term quarantine was used to represent the sea blockade.


The astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission were in quarantine for 17 days after their return to Earth (right: US President Richard Nixon )


An early request to isolate the infectious patients for 7 days in order to prevent the spread of the disease is already in the third book of the Torah and the Old Testament .

The idea of ​​40 days of isolation possibly refers to a statement by the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates or from the Corpus Hippocraticum , which states (among other things) 40 days as the turning point for an illness.

middle Ages

As early as 1374, a quarantine, albeit only ten days, was carried out in Reggio nell'Emilia .

In the past, epidemic houses were often built to isolate people affected by an epidemic.

In order to protect their city from plague epidemics , the government of the Republic of Ragusa decided in July 1377 that all arriving travelers and merchants had to stay in isolation in specially built hospitals for thirty days and then forty (i.e. quaranta ) days before entering the city. including in Lazareti near Dubrovnik . The term quarantine in its current meaning was derived from this regulation . In 1383, quarantine was imposed on arriving ships for the first time in Marseille to protect themselves from the plague that was raging in Europe at the time . Another source says that Venice officials introduced the quarantine in 1374. The crew and goods were initially isolated on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo and were only allowed to go ashore after thirty and later forty days.


In the 19th century, with the strong expansion of international sea trade, the quarantine was made dependent on whether the ship had suspiciously ill people on board. Cholera , typhus , yellow fever , plague or smallpox or if a person suspected of an epidemic had already died en route were deemed to be subject to quarantine . The quarantine flag , the letter Q of the international flag alphabet , is still valid today, but with the opposite meaning: Whoever sets the flag claims: "Everything is healthy on board, ask for free traffic permit (to be able to enter the port)." Only who Placing the flag Q together with the so-called auxiliary stand means to the authorities that he considers a health clearance to be necessary. In addition, marine radio is used today if the team deems special measures to be necessary.

Quarantine measures in 1918 protected Australia from the too rapid spread of the Spanish flu .

In the case of smallpox outbreaks in Germany , drastic isolation measures were still in place in the 1960s. Some of the people affected were isolated in school camps without medical care and had to take care of themselves.

During the COVID-19 pandemic , which presumably began in the Chinese city of Wuhan , the city was quarantined at the end of January 2020, all flight and train connections were discontinued and local public transport also ceased operations. The residents were instructed not to leave the city. These measures were expanded to several cities in the days that followed, with around 56 million people in 18 Chinese cities under mass quarantine as of January 25, 2020 . There had never been quarantine measures on this scale before.

Combating communicable diseases in Germany

Order of quarantine by the health department

In Germany, danger mitigating legal quarantine regulations in § 30 Infection Protection Act (IfSG) regulated. The provisions there state that the health authorities can and must order special segregation measures in hospitals in order to combat communicable diseases . If this happens against the will of the sick person, it is a matter of deprivation of liberty , which requires a judicial order at the request of the health department ( Art. 104 (2) GG, § 30 (2) sentence 4 IfSG, § 415 , § 417 FamFG ).

According to the Infection Protection Act , only lung plague and hemorrhagic fevers are subject to quarantine. The affected patients are treated in special isolation wards . For other diseases such as cholera or multi-resistant germs , less strict isolation measures are used. It is also possible to isolate the sick and suspected of being sick “in an otherwise suitable manner” in quarantine at home or in another building. In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic , quarantine orders were issued in Germany for people who had been in a risk area in the previous 14 days or had contact with a COVID-19 sufferer and are therefore considered to be contagious, without being sick themselves or to be suspected of being sick.

Only the treating physicians, nurses and pastors have access to the sick person; other persons can be allowed or denied access by the doctor ( Section 30 (4) IfsG).

Objections and actions for contestation against measures taken by the health department to prevent the spread of communicable diseases have no suspensive effect due to their particular importance for public health ( Section 28 (3), Section 16 (8) IfSG, Section 80 (2) No. 3 VwGO ), so that preliminary legal protection must first be sought from the administrative court ( Section 80 (5) VwGO).

Officials of the health authorities are entitled to monitor the measures ( Section 28 Paragraph 3, Section 16 Paragraph 2 IfSG).

Measures in the event of non-compliance

Affected persons who do not adhere to officially ordered isolation measures may be compulsorily housed in a locked facility by order of a judge ( Section 30 (2) IfSG). In urgent cases, the court can also order temporary deprivation of liberty ( Section 427 of the FamFG). In addition, it can suspend, extend or revoke the execution of the deprivation of liberty ( § 424 , § 425 , § 426 FamFG).

Violations of enforceable orders for determining residence according to § 28 Abs. 1 IfSG as well as quarantine orders acc. Section 30 (1) IfSG is a criminal offense and is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or a fine ( Section 75 (1) no. 1 IfSG).

Regulations on compensation in the event of loss of earnings

Persons who cannot pursue their previous professional activity due to the quarantine and thus suffer a loss of earnings, receive according to. Section 56 (1) sentence 2 IfSG provides compensation. For the first six weeks, it is granted in the amount of the loss of earnings (net wages, Section 56 (3) IfSG), from the beginning of the seventh week in the amount of the statutory sick pay . The due date of the compensation is assessed according to the due date of the wages ( Section 56 (6) IfSG). This also applies if an employee becomes unable to work during the quarantine . His entitlement to continued remuneration against the employer in the event of illness is then transferred to the federal state that is liable to pay compensation ( Section 56 (7) IfSG). If the person entitled to compensation is granted unemployment benefit or short-time work allowance during the quarantine , his claim for compensation is transferred to the Federal Employment Agency ( Section 56 (9) IfSG).

The compulsory insurance in the statutory social insurance continues ( § 57 IfSG). The contributions are included in the compensation. Those who are not subject to insurance are entitled to a reasonable amount of reimbursement for their social security expenses ( Section 58 IfSG).

The compensation is tax-free ( Section 3 No. 25 EStG ) and is not subject to the annual wage tax adjustment by the employer ( Section 42b (1) sentence 3 No. 4 EStG). A special tax rate is to be applied to the taxable income ( Section 32b, Paragraph 1, Clause 1, No. 1e EStG).

Plant protection

The International Plant Protection Convention is an international treaty that forms the basis for the International Standard for Plant Protection Measures. " Plant quarantine", "quarantine station", "intermediate quarantine" and "post-import quarantine" are defined terms of the regulations. In the field of plant protection, the European Commission classifies so-called quarantine pathogens and creates guidelines on quarantine measures. In Germany, the Julius Kühn Institute, as the Federal Research Institute for Cultivated Plants, is in charge of quarantine for pathogens that affect plants.

Use of the word in IT

Based on this analogy, the word is also used in the IT industry to store malware (such as Trojans , viruses and worms ) in a specially isolated, mostly encrypted area. This technique is often used by antivirus programs to be able to easily restore the file in the event of a false positive. Moving a file to quarantine is therefore advisable, especially for laypeople, rather than deleting the file completely.

See also


Web links

Commons : Quarantine  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Quarantine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Eva-Maria Krech u. a .: Large dictionary of German pronunciation . Leipzig: VEB Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig, 1982; P. 461.
  2. Austrian dictionary . Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag Schulbuch GmbH & Co. KG, 43rd edition, 2016; P. 558.
  3. Eva-Maria Krech u. a .: German pronunciation dictionary. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009; P. 276.
  4. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th edition, ed. by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 572.
  5. Kelly Drews: A Brief History of Quarantine ( Memento of July 25, 2019 in the Internet Archive ) 2013, The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review, 2nd DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/vtuhr.v2i0.16
  6. The Bible. 3rd Book of Moses (Leviticus) 3rd Book of Moses (Leviticus), 13: 4, Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  7. Lisa Hellman: On the political dimension of the quarantine - a look back. University of Bonn, accessed on July 16, 2020.
  8. Eugenia Tognotti: Lessons from the History of Quarantine, from Plague to Influenza A Universität Sassari, Retrieved July 16, 2020
  9. See also Hermann Grensemann : The doctor Polybos as the author of Hippocratic writings. Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur in Mainz (Commissioned by Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden), Mainz 1968 (= Academy of Sciences and Literature. Treatises of the humanities and social sciences. Year 1968, No. 2), p. 89 (from De octimestri partu: “With women, conception as well as miscarriages and births are subject to the same crisis periods as illnesses and recovery and death for all people, because these all have their times of crisis partly after days, partly months, partly after forty days, sometimes after a year ”).
  10. Gundolf Keil: Quarantine. 2005, p. 1208.
  11. Ernst Mummenhoff : On the history of the epidemic houses. Festschrift for the 65th Assembly of German Naturalists and Doctors. Nuremberg 1898.
  12. Lazarett in Dubrovnik ( Memento from September 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  13. a b Joachim Schult: Segler-Lexikon . 13th edition. Delius Klasing Verlag , Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-7688-1041-8 , quarantine, quarantine flag .
  14. ^ Centenary of 'Spanish flu' pandemic in Australia. Retrieved March 30, 2020 (Australian English).
  15. China expands coronavirus outbreak lockdown to 56 million people. Accessed January 31, 2020 .
  16. Pia Heinemann: "A mass quarantine of this magnitude has never been attempted before". In: welt.de. January 27, 2020, accessed February 11, 2020 .
  17. Overview of infectious diseases and required measures as a basis for stipulations in the hygiene plan. KRINKO 2016 ; accessed on March 13, 2019.
  18. Corona, quarantine and the IfSG - What is the state allowed to do? March 11, 2020.
  19. Germans are flown out of Wuhan: Returnees from China should come to barracks in Rhineland-Palatinate RP-online, January 30, 2020.
  20. Coronavirus: German returnees from China are allowed to leave quarantine barracks Der Spiegel , February 15, 2020.
  21. Coronavirus infection and quarantine at home. RKI, as of March 10, 2020; accessed on March 16, 2020.
  22. Containing the coronavirus: official measures, obligations and sanctions Haufe.de, March 1, 2020.
  23. Heinsberg can no longer control the coronavirus quarantine Oldenburger Onlinezeitung, March 11, 2020.
  24. Coronavirus - March 13, 2020 Current status of the Gangelt municipality , accessed on March 15, 2020.
  25. Coronavirus in Germany - and now? In: tagesschau.de. February 27, 2020, accessed February 27, 2020 .
  26. Coronavirus: Rights and obligations during the quarantine expert report, February 28, 2020.
  27. Reimbursement for loss of earnings due to a ban on activities, State Office Saxony Interior, Social Affairs and Health, March 13, 2020.
  28. Manfred Geiken: Infection Protection Act / Social Insurance Haufe.de, accessed on March 14, 2020.
  29. Infection Protection Act Haufe.de, accessed on 19 March 2020th
  30. UN FAO / Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , International Plant Protection Convention , ISPM 5 (DE) ( Memento of 25 July 2019 Internet Archive ) 2016, (German edition of the "Glossary of Phytosanitary terms")