History repeats itself. The great plague of Marseille in 1720 killed about 50,000 of the city's inhabitants. In Western Europe, it was the last major outbreak of bubonic plague, which is still considered one of the deadliest diseases in history and then Three hundred years later, in 2019 the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (or Covid-19) appeared between October and December in China.
From its initial outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus quickly spread across the globe, infecting 63 million people and killing over 1.4 million as of November 30, 2020. In fact, at any point before the 19th century, Covid-19 would most likely remain a localized disease that wouldn’t spread anywhere. It has limited potential to cause a pandemic on its own, the infected person is simply not infectious for a sufficiently long period. There are only about five critical days during which the individual can infect others: 1–2 days before the onset of symptoms and about 3–5 days after the onset. Before and after that most infected are safe to be around.
Many outbreaks have occurred throughout human history, but there is only one outbreak with the first intense quarantine, the plague. COVID-19, the Black Death was an indiscernible, inconspicuous, and mischievous disease; it evolved from the East, spread among the population in cities and towns, and even made its way to different countries through international trade. The history of quarantine dates back to the time of the Black Death (Plague) when medicine was incapable to fight the disease.
This means for any period before rail travel an infected person is quite unlikely to be able to spread the virus far and wide.
As nowadays the approach to patients with plague has been changed and there is no need for such costumes, it is expected that the management situation of COVID-19 patients will also change by a better understanding of the pathogenesis and the structure of the virus; this change may also include some alternations in PPE especially in the masks. The self-protection for health care workers is so important that they can become a potential patient themselves and an involuntary coronavirus spreader while being a caregiver who treats the patients. Despite the current emphasis on the use of PPE to control the virus transmission, the compliance of healthcare workers is still as not as expected.
Like COVID-19, the Black Death was insidious, unpalatable, and invisible, and it came from the East. Of course, the pathogen is totally different today, we are dealing today with a virus versus a bacterium in the past. There were three forms of yersinia pestis, bubonic (the most common), pneumonic, and septicemic. You could survive the first, you died quickly in the second and third cases. They called the disease the "mortality" in the Latin of the time, mortalitas.
The disease surrounded humans who were at a loss to identify where it came from … somewhat like today. Folks presumed it was God's wrath, or bad air (miasma) caused by volcanoes, or the conjunction of certain stars. Some others thought that people like beggars, lepers or Jews had willingly and purposefully poisoned the area.
The idea that it was in the air circulated at a time when the concept of "infection" and "infectious diseases" did not exist. People made masks with good smelling herbs/flowers that they kept under their nose in order to ward off the disease similar to the "masks" of today.
However, Covid-19 is dangerous largely because of our level of development. This is one of the reasons why developed countries suffer worse than undeveloped ones: better mobility means more opportunities to spread the virus. The plague was somewhat independent of this and could hitch a ride on animals as well, but not Covid-19.