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Social distancing and quarantine are not new concepts. During the Middle Ages, when Europe and Asia were devastated by deadly outbreaks of plague and small pox, physicians had no idea about viruses and bacteria, but they knew enough to isolate the infected to arrest the spread of the disease.

The first official decree to introduce quarantine was by the Republic of Ragusa, now the city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. Located on the Adriatic coast, the Republic of Ragusa had an active port through which people and goods entered from all over the world. When plague broke out in the 14th century in countries across the Mediterranean and the Balkans, the Great Council of the Republic passed a legislation according to which all merchants, sailors, and goods arriving from plague-infested areas were required to spend a month in quarantine. Only if it was proven that the person was healthy, after the end of the quarantine period, was he allowed to enter the city.

Lazzarettos of Dubrovnik

Aerial view of Banje Beach in Croatia. The walled buildings on the left are the lazarettos, or quarantine quarters. Photo: dronepicr/Flickr


© Amusing Planet, 2020.


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