April 1, 2020 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team
Staying home can help stem the coronavirus outbreak, but what if you're well? Is it a good idea to go for a run in a congested park, go to the store, or visit your friends?
Have at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance within yourself and anyone, especially if you notice someone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? Coughs or sneezes scatter large amounts of liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may carry the virus. If you are too close, you can inhale in the droplets, including the coronavirus if the person coughing has the virus.
At this point, there is no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus so our safest solution is based on prevention.
Many nations around the world are now enforcing several measures for social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. They vary from stopping crowd gatherings, blocking public places like recreation centers, bars, shopping malls, movie theaters, schools, colleges and in some areas a total lockdown with people ordered to stay inside.
While self-isolation is a kind of social distancing, there is an essential distinction to be made. Self-isolation and quarantine are directed at stopping people who are infected or are identified to have had a connection with people who are affected by the virus. Social distancing is a broader action aimed at preventing the kind of mixing of people that enables viruses to spread within a community.
But there is a big reason why social distancing has become such an important solution in controlling this pandemic. It has to do with the way the virus spreads and multiplies in various stages.
There is previously some proof that being at home, and having a safe distance from others, can reduce the spread and prevent this domino effect. A study on infections in Wuhan revealed that the initiation of large-scale control areas saw the reproduction number in the city drop from 2.35 to about one. When a reproduction number moves one, the number of cases will end rising as dramatically each infected person is transferring it on to only one other person. Modeling work in China has revealed that large levels of social distancing were key to overcoming this reproduction number in Wuhan and the deeper Hubei province.
One of the main purposes of social distancing is to "level the curve", which means preventing the spread of the virus so it transfers people more slowly. With it, the curve is much flatter and the number of infected people at any point is much lower, which means people requiring urgent care and resources are lower.
The effectiveness and societal influence of quarantine and social distancing will depend on the likelihood of public health professionals, political leaders, organizations, and most importantly the general public.