Governments, doctors, and public health officials are urging people to practice social distancing as part of curbing COVID- 19 that has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. By now we are sure you must be familiar with the term “social distancing” as it has been thrown around way too many times to create awareness among people. But despite all efforts, people seem to fail to follow the necessary precautions to contain the virus.
While self-quarantine is essentially for people who may have been exposed to the virus and don’t have any symptoms yet, social distancing is for anyone who has not been infected with the virus. This means that it should be followed by everyone regardless of whether you have come in close contact with an infected person or not.
Social distancing as the word suggests means limiting as much social contact as possible. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also asked everyone to maintain at least a 2-meter distance between each other (1).
Here are the dos and don’ts of social distancing you need to be aware of:
Practice Good Hygiene
Make sure you wash your hands immediately after stepping in from outside. Do the same after visiting the loo and also before you have food. Follow the proper guidelines and wash using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget to clean in between your fingers and under your nails. If you are outside with no access to soap and water, carry a hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol (2).
Try not to touch your face as much as possible and sanitize doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces including your phone. Make sure you cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing. Use your elbows to cover yourself while coughing instead of using hands.
Avoid Crowded Places
Avoid large gatherings and crowded places such as malls, restaurants, theaters, pubs, or any other public spaces. If you must leave the house for any emergency purposes, make sure you maintain 6 feet distance from everyone and follow basic hygiene. Cancel any events that you had planned earlier which involves socializing with people.
No Handshakes Or Hugs
Though it is common sense by now, people may extend their hand for a handshake out of habit. Polite decline their greeting and instead go with a simple hi or namaste. Keep a 6 feet distance with everyone regardless of whether they are a stranger or your close friend.
You Can Still Go Out
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to confine yourself to the four walls of your bedroom. You can interact with family members in your house. Going out and walking your dog or getting some sun is also allowed if you are not coming in contact with anyone.
Avoid Public Transportation
It’s best to avoid public transportation including trains and buses. But if you must go, make sure to avoid peak hours and keep a distance from everyone. Don’t forget to carry a sanitizer as well.
Avoid Playdates And Sleepovers
If you had arranged for any playdates or sleepovers for your kids, cancel everything. Also, avoid visiting your grandparents or elderly neighbors as can maybe potentially risking their lives by exposing them to the virus.
Don’t Give In To Panic Buying
While it is good to prepare yourself for the coming days, stocking up on everything you can get your hands on is not the right way to go. Be mindful of how much you purchase. Remember that not everyone can afford to stock up at once. However, buy things that would last you for two weeks including medications and other supplies so that you don’t find yourself frequently stepping out of the house. Remind yourself to be kind to others at a time when all of us need to work on this together to tackle the situation.
Remember that even if you may be able to survive this, you will be potentially risking other people’s lives by not following the said guidelines. So, practice social distancing regardless of whether you think it’s silly or an overreaction to the outbreak.
Who knew that being socially distant would help saves lives!