3 months ago, we were not even familiar with the expression ‘social distancing’. But then the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the world infecting hundreds of thousands of people. With the rising cases in India, we too have been urged to stay home and practise social distancing.
So, what is social distancing and how does it work? Read on to find out.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing means keeping a minimum distance of 5-6 feet between you and other people outside your home. This means no group gatherings and staying away from crowded places. It limits your exposure to the virus and keeps your family safe.
Remember to step out alone to buy groceries and other essentials. Avoid taking other family members or anyone else with you. The government has instructed shop owners to ensure that social distancing is followed by all shoppers.
So, let us understand why coronavirus is so dangerous and why we need social distancing.
The dangers of Coronavirus
Coronavirus is deadly, we already know that from the staggering death toll from across the globe. But, what is even more alarming is the speed at which it spreads.
According to the observations of WHO that tracked the pattern of the transmission across the world, the first 1 Lakh people were infected in 67 days. The next 1 Lakh were infected in 12 days. The virus took only 4 days to infect another 1 Lakh people. And finally in just 2 days 1 Lakh new people contracted the virus.
This is called an exponential rise. Like wildfire, it has consumed Europe and the USA and these countries seem to be at a loss about how to prevent the spread of the virus even further.
And the same pattern is beginning to emerge in India. By March 30th, the number of infected patients escalated by 10 times in just 15 days.
India takes up the fight against Coronavirus
Medical experts in India knew that unless the exponential spread of the disease is stopped, healthcare services in India would be overwhelmed. In a country with a huge population, the situation can become graver than Europe.
So, what could India do to stop transmission?
- Aggressive testing
- Contact tracing
- Social distancing
While testing and contact tracing are the domains of experts, all the public needs to do is practise social distancing.
The Importance of Social distancing to slow down the spread of COVID-19
The research behind the efficacy of social distancing
This move can be backed by research conducted in Australia found that social distancing should be applied as early as possible before the virus starts spreading fast. The longer the country takes to declare social distancing, the more time the virus has to transmit itself aggressively.
This is where Europe went wrong. They acted when it was too late and that is why today they are unable to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Furthermore, research by the Indian Council of Medical Research has found that social distancing can reduce the spread of coronavirus by as much as 62%!
Another study by COV-IND-19 concluded that without social distancing, the number of infected people could reach 13 Lakh by the middle of May.
Reasons for implementing social distancing
Social distancing is an absolute necessity at this hour.
Why is it so important? Let us explain.
The ICMR found that temperature checks that were imposed at airports before the blanket ban on travel might not have been sufficient. Many people who came in from abroad had the virus in their bodies but they had not experienced fever yet. The virus could have been in the incubation phase in these people. Nearly 46% of infected people might have been missed due to this.
The ICMR also said it might take the next few months for the COVID-19 to truly manifest itself. We will not know the full extent of the spread of this infection until then. These months are crucial and without preventive measures, we too could end up like Europe and the USA.
India ranks 57th in a list of 195 countries in terms of how prepared a country is for a pandemic. So, we are not very well equipped to handle a health crisis of this proportion. Social distancing will ensure that we don’t get to the serious stages of this COVID-19.
Now you know why social distancing is so vital in the fight against coronavirus. And we all have to do our part to win this battle. Stay home, resist the temptation of going out. Use social media and your smartphones to stay in touch with friends and family. The crisis will pass only if everyone cooperates.