In 2020, the world came face-to-face with one of the most dangerous strains of the flu: Covid-19, popularly known as the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus was unprecedented in virality, infecting roughly 3 million people in a span of 2-3 months, and bringing to a halt international trade, entire economies, and everyday life in general.
Due to the novel nature of the virus, the chances of deploying a vaccine in such a short span of time was impossible, giving rise to what researchers called “the new normal”: a way of life designed to limiting exposure to other people by means of social distancing.
In this way, researchers believed that major population centers, traditional breeding grounds of pandemics, can severely reduce instances of infection by keeping people away from each other, greatly hampering the chances of Covid-19 jumping from one person to the other.
Social distancing is now a cultural touchpoint around the world, a concept that is hesitantly embraced by humanity and so far our only weapon against the deadly pandemic
What Exactly is Social Distancing?
To put it simply, social distancing means to keep a reasonable amount of space between yourself and other people when you venture outside your home. Social distancing is meant to allow people to interact with each other with enough space between them so that the virus doesn’t spread.
For effective social distancing, researchers recommend staying at least 6 feet –about 2 arms’ length –away from other people. That’s because the Covid-19 virus has been known to travel around 3 feet from an infected person’s body.
Researchers also highly discourage people from gathering in groups, venturing into crowded area, or holding mass gatherings, as these situations prevent effective social distancing and can be a hotbed for infection. After all, it only takes one person to infect an entire community.
In communities where Covid-19 is present, social distancing becomes one of the most effective and powerful tools that people can use to prevent the virus from spreading. Covid-19 has a two-week incubation period, during which time the host is asymptomatic but infectious. Therefore, it’s essential that people practice social distancing when they’ve had contact with someone who might have had Covid-19 or are in an area prone to Covid-19 infections, even if they’re not displaying symptoms.
Why Do We Need Social Distancing?
Covid-19 spreads through water droplets expelled from the body via spit, sneezing, or coughing. These water droplets can travel around 3 to 6 feet. The virus spreads when it enters another person’s body via inhalation or if they touch a contaminated surface and they end up wiping their hands on their eyes, nose and/or mouth. Covid-19 is notorious for being asymptomatic during its incubation period, which means people who might have already been infected can go around infecting other people because they believe themselves to be disease-free.
Covid-19 has also been known to live on surfaces for hours, even days, at a time. This means surfaces and objects can have the Covid-19 virus, and when touched, get transferred onto a person. Should that person touch sensitive areas of their body with the virus on their hands, they run the risk of infecting themselves. With social distancing, people have limited contact with both people and contaminated surfaces for as long as possible.
Everyone is a potential carrier for Covid-19, which is why it is essential that everyone practices social distancing for as long as possible to greatly reduce the risk of infecting themselves, their loved ones, and their communities in general.
How to Practice Proper Social Distancing
The World Health Organization came out with proper social distancing guidelines that include the recommended space between people as well as instructions on washing your hands as often as possible. It’s also imperative that people follow government regulations like shelter-in-place policies or community quarantine guidelines.
For people living in areas with shelter-in-place or lockdown policies, it’s best to order food, medicines, and other essential items via government-regulated channels and/or companies authorized to make home deliveries. These services will usually have strict disinfection policies, as well as ‘no-touch’ delivery procedures that further help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
If you do need to go out, always wear a cloth face cover or surgical mask, especially if you have to interact with other people. This goes a long way to preventing the virus entering your body via inhalation, and can also prevent you from spreading the virus if you have it. However, even with a facemask on, it’s always best to practice social distancing.
To prevent cabin fever while sheltering in place, try to maintain a regular sleep and work schedule for as long as possible. Stay connected to your friends and family via social media to avoid undue strain on your mental health. Stress can affect both physical and mental health, so it’s best to engage in activities that de-stress you (albeit activities you can do at home) during this stressful time.