What is ‘social distancing’ and why is it important? 

Because of how contagious coronavirus is, the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is to stay healthy. To do this, you should take part in social distancing.

Everyone can pick up the coronavirus and pass it onto other people without realising. If you are young and healthy, you might contract the virus without ever feeling symptoms. But more people in your community could be vulnerable than you think, especially older people or those with underlying health conditions.You could give them the virus without realising. So you need to stay healthy too, and you can ensure this by social distancing.

WHAT IS ‘SOCIAL DISTANCING’?

The virus is mainly spread between people who are within 2 metres of each other, by coughing, sneezing, and touching. Social distancing slows the spread of the pandemic. It involves staying physically far enough away from each other so that the coronavirus cannot spread from one person to another. This means keeping 2 metres (around one body length) away from other people and not touching them, for example by shaking their hand. The virus is mainly spread between people who are within 2 metres of each other, by coughing, sneezing, and touching.

There are ways to continue your daily life (including going to work) and protect your community with small changes. Social distancing means you should:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Only meet people you live with – don’t meet friends or family that you don’t live with
  • Avoid busy places like restaurants, bars and markets.
  • If you have to go to a market, for example to get food, try to stay 2m away from other people, and wash your hands frequently Don’t go to the gym – this is a place where lots of people touch the same surfaces and don’t always clean them afterwards.
  • Avoid public transport and public spaces
  • If you feel unwell – call your doctor before you go to visit them

WHAT IF I HAVE TO GO TO WORK?

In many countries, people who are not working in ‘essential services’ like healthcare are being asked to work from home.

Those who cannot work from home can still make a difference by keeping their distance from others and regularly washing their hands. This includes avoiding public spaces and public transport.

We understand it is hard to tell people to avoid public transport when they need it. If you are able to drive or walk to work, doing so will help other people who have no choice but to take public transport. If you work in close contact to other people, like at a market, make sure to wash your hands all the time.

WHY IS SOCIAL-DISTANCING SO IMPORTANT?

At the moment, there is no vaccine for coronavirus. This means that social distancing is the only tool we have to slow down the spread and transmission (passing on to another person) of the virus.

There are also no drugs that can slow down the infection. The only way to make the very sick feel better is to have good hospital care. If there are not enough hospital places for the amount of sick people, effective treatment will be impossible.So, the only way to try to make sure everyone who needs it can go to a hospital is to make sure less people are sick at once. We can achieve this through social distancing.

IS SOCIAL DISTANCING THE SAME AS SELF-QUARANTINE OR SELF-ISOLATION?

No. Self-quarantine is when you believe you have come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus and so you must quarantine or isolate yourself. You should be completely alone in your own physical space.

SOCIAL DISTANCING IN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa has started social distancing. From the 24th March, the City of Cape Town closed its beaches. This will help residents practice social distancing by limiting the opportunities for public contact. South Africa also called of their biggest annual event, an Easter pilgrimage held by the Zion Christ Church. The government has also said that all bars, pubs, shebeens, and restaurants that sell liquor must close at 6pm. These places also must not have any more than 50 patrons at any one time.

Marwin Ramos

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