The spread of the Coronavirus in many parts of the world has created a lot of confusion among people. There’s a lot of fear, panic and anxiety among many people. The biggest question on many people’s minds being what should they do next? Researchers and health experts emphasize the importance of social distancing as an effective tool in dealing with the COVID-19 virus.
Unfortunately, experts agree that the outbreak cannot be stopped at this point. However, the biggest concern is exponential spread. Currently, countries in Europe such as Italy are seeing large numbers of infected people emerge daily. The numbers in the United States have increased drastically too. The rapid spread of the disease in Italy is perhaps the best case study currently of the importance of social distancing.
Why should you keep maintain social distance?
Asaf Bitton, a public health researcher wrote an article in which he explains the importance of social distancing especially in the first week of confirmed coronavirus cases in a place. Already in many parts of the world, including Kenya, schools have been shut down, public gatherings and events have also been cancelled. These moves have been authorized by the government to mitigate the further spread of the virus.
This is particularly important in the first week because of the risk of spreading the virus. With the new strain of the virus, it takes 2 to 14 days for symptoms to show in an infected person. This is particularly important to note because despite not showing symptoms, evidence shows that such infected persons can still transmit the virus to other people. Despite myths about the virus being peddled, there is no herd immunity when it comes to coronavirus. Everybody is at risk of infection which translates to a wider spread of the virus.
In many countries where the spread is still on the lower side, there is a debate on the importance of social distancing. Many people are still not heeding to social distancing advice. There are still people going for social gatherings such as nights out in clubs. Despite washing hands frequently, social distancing is effective in preventing the spread of the virus to more people.
Social distancing is important because it reduces the number of people infected tremendously. One person can infect at least three more who in turn infect more people and the chain continues. If one person keeps away from other people then the number of possible infections reduces.
Here are a few practical ways in which people can practice social distancing.
- Avoid public gatherings.
This includes events and mass gatherings such as church services or events. Currently, the government has ordered the closure of all schools which is in line with effective social distancing.
- Avoid gatherings such as parties and visits among family and friends.
During this period, despite many people working from home and kids being out of school, this is not the time for play dates and parties. It would be undoing the intended purpose of closing schools and working from home. At the stage where symptoms are not visible, it’s difficult to know who is infected thus spreading the virus to family and friends.
- Avoid eating in hotels and coffee shops.
Instead of dining in restaurants consider drive-throughs or a delivery system. There are also concerns about eating take-out due to the chain of handling the food.
- Reduce the number of visits to grocery stores and other shops.
Visits to grocery stores are important since people still have to eat and use other supplies, so these cannot be eliminated completely but reduce the frequency. Remember to sanitize as you take these kinds of trips.
5. Maintain a one metre distance between yourself and the next person.
The virus spreads through respiratory droplets. So experts recommend a one metre distance between you and people whose infection status you are no sure about.
Social distancing is very crucial in slowing down the spread of the virus. Besides doing it for yourself, people need to understand that they put vulnerable people at a higher risk of serious complications from the virus by going on with ‘business as usual’. The rapid spread of the virus results in the health systems not being able to handle the high numbers.