By maintaining a safe distance from others - about 6 feet, approximately - we can stop respiratory droplets from an infected person to land on a healthy person. This helps in breaking the chain of transmission (infection from one person to another) and flattening the curve of the infected cases (reduce the rise in new cases).
In the case of COVID-19, this has proven successful only in part because it can take up to 2 weeks for an infected person to develop symptoms. This is why most countries graduated from voluntary social distancing to state-mandated self-isolation - like the lockdown in India.
While the practice of social distancing may have caught on during this pandemic, its usefulness is not exclusive to novel coronavirus alone. If adopted as a lifestyle practice, it can reduce the incidence of other contagious infections such as swine flu, influenza, common cold and other seasonal viral illnesses.
Lessons From Abroad
In many cultures and countries (Scandinavia/Japan etc), social distancing is a common practice and has helped significantly in keeping the pandemic numbers down.
What is that they do differently? Let's take a look.:
- People generally avoid being in large groups
- Maintaining distance from strangers is the norm
- Very few people share accommodations with others, this includes young students and professionals.
- People maintained distance from others at all times, even at social events and public gatherings.
- Their contactless greeting is marked by bowing to each other is a fine example of social distancing, just like the Namaste of India.
- Wearing surgical masks when down with the flu or cold is the norm here. Not only does this prevent the spread of infections but also sends out a signal to others to maintain their distance from the infected person.
Social Distancing as an Essential Practice
As the pandemic makes a resurgence, we need to carry on and double up on some of the practices we have been following to hold us all in good stead. Here are some practices that can – and must – be practised vigorously now and in the long haul.
- Practising good hand hygiene.
- Keeping a handkerchief/tissue on you, if you're sick.
- If you don't have either, coughing, sneezing into your elbow and not your palm.
- Wearing a mask if you have a cough or cold.
- Following safe-distance practices in markets, stores, gyms and elevators.
- Avoiding crowded places when you're carrying an infection.
- Sticking to the 6-feet distance rule as much as possible when interacting with co-workers, clients and even friends.
It will be a while before the world, and your life, picks up pace again. Until then, stay indoors, stay safe!
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model.
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