By now, there are plenty of news outlets and health columns stressing on the need for social distancing. Countries all over the world have implemented measures such as business closures and school lockdowns that would mitigate the spread of the disease. Such measures ensure that an individual’s contact to the outside world is minimal; there’s a lesser chance of infecting more people. Governments have urged people to stay at home.

While there are a few relaxations in place many people think that social distancing is more of a suggestion than a rule. There’s quite a spread of misinformation out there and that has raised a lot of questions regarding social distancing and its role in curbing the spread of the virus. TABIIB has listed the most commonly asked questions, with answers, to help you understand the importance of this preventative measure.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing involves a set of behaviours that can lower your risk of catching the infection. This means staying at home, maintaining a distance of at least six feet between yourself and other people, and cancelling big gatherings. When practised in tandem with frequent hand washing and wearing masks when outside, it does help reduce the spread of the disease.

Read more about social distancing here.

How does social distancing help?

In addition to keeping yourself protected, it also helps in keeping other people safe. A lot of people are definitely healthy and have relatively strong immune systems; however, there’s concern about spreading an infection to vulnerable people with compromised immunity. Moreover, the implementation of social distancing also helps reduce the burden on the healthcare system – a term called “flattening the curve.”

There are quite a few new words cropping up, which you may not know the meaning to. Here’s a primer on the common words related to the pandemic, and what they all mean.

How can I socially distance at home?

If you or someone in your house tests positive or shows symptoms, it’s always best to get admitted to a hospital. However, you can also socially isolate in your house by designating a room for the infected individual and regularly sanitising and disinfecting the house.

If I have to go out, how can I keep myself and others safe?

In order to approach the implementation of social distancing, first it’s important to know how the virus spreads. COVID-19 is not airborne. It is transmitted through respiratory droplets – being coughed on or touching something that somebody coughed on and then touching your face allows the pathogen to enter your body through your nose and mouth.

Good hygiene–hand washing, sanitizing, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough–is important. The CDC has also advised people to wear a cloth mask when out and about.

Read more about how you can stay safe when you go outside.

How does wearing a mask help?

Cloth masks are recommended as a simple barrier to prevent respiratory droplets from directly landing on your skin. If you suspect that you may be infected, it’s generally a good idea to wear a surgical mask. They must also be used alongside frequent hand washing and sanitising.

It’s generally a good idea to avoid reusing masks. If you’re wearing a mask, ensure that your hands are well sanitized before touching it.

Learn more about the importance of wearing face masks here.

Is travelling okay during this period?

The CDC recommends avoiding discretionary travel, for obvious reasons. It’s impossible to maintain a distance of six feet on an airplane. Even if you were driving to your destination, the whole point of implementing closures and preventative measures is so you can stop other people from being infected.

Travelling anywhere farther than a 3 mile radius is not advised unless it’s an emergency trip to the grocery store or to your pharmacy.

How does the virus spread from human to human?

Spread of infection can be caused through direct contact.

The virus can be transmitted from one individual to another:

-through direct contact with another who’s infectious
-through contact with respiratory droplets if an infected person coughs or sneezes
-through touching objects such as doorknobs and handles, and then touching your face or mouth

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

Currently, there is no vaccine developed for the novel coronavirus. However, many countries are already working on initial research and trials are being conducted towards the endpoint of preventing the disease. Stanford scientists are working towards developing a technology to battle coronavirus for use in future pandemics.

There is a lot of information, and misinformation, out there regarding the ethics of social distancing during this pandemic. There are a lot more questions that can be answered. The CDC has compiled an exhaustive guide of commonly asked questions. If you’re looking for more information regarding the pandemic, read through the TABIIB blog archives.

I am a writer, covering the sprawling expanse of healthcare, among many other things that I love writing on. I write on healthcare because I want to do my part in informing people about the health industry, When I am not blogging about research and medicine, I enjoy reading, playing squash and backpacking around the world.

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