By, Dr. Bipin Jibhkate, Consultant Critical Care Medicine, Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road
Public health officials from governments around the world are advising everyone, especially those most vulnerable to infection, to self-isolate or practice social distancing to slow down the spread of coronavirus. We brief you about social distancing which is the need of the hour.
COVID-19 is a virus that causes respiratory disease and in serious cases it can lead to pneumonia. If one exhibits symptoms such as respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties then he/she may suffer from coronavirus. Coronavirus is a global crisis, and the situation is changing every day. Many cases of it have been reported in India as well.
Along with some of these vital measures, one is social distancing that needs to be adopted on an immediate basis
What is social distancing?
Our Government has advised people to socially distance themselves in order to reduce pressures on health services and stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). Social distancing is a vital tool to slow the spread of a disease that is being passed from person to person. This means that people should stay far enough away from each other so that the coronavirus cannot spread from one person to another. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has described social distancing as staying away from mass gatherings and keeping a distance of 6 feet or 2 meters about one body length away from other people respiratory droplets emitted from a person’s nose or mouth by coughing, sneezing, and other activities can travel up to six feet in distance
Social distancing also means not touching other people including handshakes. This is so because, a person will catch coronavirus easily via physical touch.
What you should avoid doing is working from home if possible, traveling only when necessary, especially on public transport or for overseas trips. Avoid social venues such as cinemas and clubs, gatherings of large groups of people and restricting visitors, since, coronavirus is spread mainly through respiratory droplets (especially when people cough or sneeze). Though one can go to the grocery store but that too in the early morning or late night and wash the fruits and vegetables properly before eating. But, remember to stay home as much as possible.
Know why social distancing is important
The aim of social distancing is to reduce the amount of interaction people have while allowing them to carry out their necessary real-world activities. Keep in touch with your family members or friends over the phone. These measures are especially essential for people at higher risk of severe disease if they get coronavirus. The people who are at a higher risk include the elderly (over 70) and ones with medical issues such as lung disease, heart disease, weak immune system, diabetes, neurological problems, kidney disease and pregnant women.
How is social distancing different from self-isolation?
People with the possibility of coronavirus have to go for self-isolation in case they exhibit any symptoms or even if they have come in close contact with someone who might have coronavirus. It involves not going to work or school, not traveling, not sharing the bed, avoid going out for even buying any supplies, not sharing any household items and utensils. Self-isolation can be done for a set period of time. While social distancing is an ongoing practice that may go over a period of time. Thus, everyone should practice it.