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Quarantine has been around since the 14th century when officials in
Venice, Italy, forced arriving ships to sit anchor for 40 days before landing
to protect locals from plague. Last spring, seven centuries later, the global
outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) forced public health
officials around the world to implement or consider quarantine (the term was
derived from the Latin word quaresma, meaning 40),
a time-honored but controversial prevention tool.
Thousands were placed under quarantine in China, Hong Kong, and Canada.
President George W. Bush issued an executive order on April 10 adding SARS
to the list of communicable diseases for which public health officials could
use quarantine, although the measure was not invoked for the 33 people in
the United States who were diagnosed as having SARS.
Mitka M. SARS Thrusts Quarantine Into the Limelight. JAMA. 2003;290(13):1696–1698. doi:10.1001/jama.290.13.1696
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