BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 pandemic a public health emergency of international concern . South Africa, like many other countries, initiated a multifaceted national response to the pandemic . Self-isolation and quarantine are essential components of the public health response in the country . This paper examined perceptions and preparedness for self-isolation or quarantine during the initial phase of the pandemic in South Africa .
METHODS: The analysis used data obtained from an online quantitative survey conducted in all nine provinces using a data-free platform . Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression models were used to analyse the data .
RESULTS: Of 55,823 respondents , 40.1% reported that they may end up in self-isolation or quarantine, 32.6% did not think that they would and 27.4% were unsure . Preparedness for self-isolation or quarantine was 59.0% for self , 53.8% for child and 59.9% for elderly . The odds of perceived possibility for self-isolation or quarantine were significantly higher among Coloureds, Whites, and Indians/Asians than Black Africans, and among those with moderate or high self-perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 than those with low risk perception . The odds were significantly lower among older age groups than those aged 18-29 years, and those unemployed than fully employed . The odds of preparedness for self-isolation or quarantine were significantly less likely among females than males . Preparedness for self, child and elderly isolation or quarantine was significantly more likely among other population groups than Black Africans and among older age groups than those aged 18-29 years . Preparedness for self, child and elderly isolation or quarantine was significantly less likely among those self-employed than fully employed and those residing in informal dwellings than formal dwellings . In addition, preparedness for self-isolation or quarantine was significantly less likely among those with moderate and high self-perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 than low risk perception .
CONCLUSION: The findings highlight the challenge of implementing self-isolation or quarantine in a country with different and unique social contexts . There is a need for public awareness regarding the importance of self-isolation or quarantine as well as counter measures against contextual factors inhibiting this intervention, especially in impoverished communities.
Index: COVID-19, Pandemic, Preparedness, Quarantine, Self-isolation, South Africa