Quarantine: What it Meant and How it Began The year was 1348, and the bubonic plague was spreading its black pall of death over Europe. Venice, one of Italy’s most important ports, lost 600 citizens in a single day. The Venetian Council frantically sought a means to protect their city, and ordered the Doge (their senior-most elected official) to command all incoming ships to remain at anchor, and traders to remain outside the walls, for quaranta giorni, or “forty days.” The number of days was no accident; according to the Bible, Christ himself had spent forty days in the wilderness cleansing himself and preparing for his ministry. Forty days was a divine number. Quaranta Girorni became, of course, the word “Quarantine”; a concept which quickly was adopted throughout the world and is with us to this day. A vessel entering a foreign port is required to anchor, raise a yellow
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