COVID-19: Social distancing explained

Social distancing is reducing physical contact between people; keeping a distance of at least one meter between you and the next person. It is characterized by measures such as avoiding gatherings, non-necessary travel, public transport and working from home. It proved effective during the 1918 Spanish Flu and in 2009 in Mexico city during the flu pandemic.

During times of a disease outbreak, take COVID-19  as an example, the word social distancing is used often as communities put up measures to fight the transmission of the virus. However, the concept is not well understood by all.

Social distancing is reducing physical contact between people; keeping a distance of at least one meter between you and the next person. It  is characterized by measures such as avoiding gatherings, non-necessary travel, public transport and working from home. It proved effective during the 1918 Spanish Flu and in 2009 in Mexico city during the flu pandemic.
 

Can I go to see my boyfriend/girlfriend, we’re still young?

 

No, please don’t, even though initial data shows that older people are more vulnerable, so are young people. There is evidence that people who show only mild symptoms may pass the virus to others not realizing they’re sick in the early days of the infection. 

 

Can I go out to dinner at a restaurant?

 

Although the officials encourage at least 1-meter distance as advised by the Ministry of Health- while at a restaurant, opt for take out or order that food at your home.

Can I go outdoors to breathe fresh air?

For fresh air? Yes, it’s okay to go outdoors. However, avoid being in close contact with people, and when you do, avoid touching your face and wash your hands frequently.

Can I run some errands at the supermarket?

Ideally, having a plan-that involves buying goods that will last you a certain set period to avoid going regularly- is the best option. It’s also advised to pick a time when the stores have fewer people. Bear in mind that any surface may be contaminated, mostly the cart’s handle and remember to wash or sanitize your hands on every occasion- which is easier now that at every entrance there is either a washing bay or hand sanitizer.

Can the family come to visit?

It’s okay for young and healthy relatives with careful interaction and in small groups. However, it’s still a NO for grandma and grandpa (elders) as well as his/her agemates.

Can I go to the chapel/prayer room to pray?

Rwandans love to pray. Nevertheless, it’s advised to pray from home as God is omnipresent. 

Can I take my kids to the playground?

Evidence points out that kids rarely get ill from the virus. But kids will likely touch their mouths, noses or faces every time therefore, spaces with high traffic are not advised. On the other hand, if you choose to go, carry a hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes on you, and be prepared to clean any surfaces with the wipes before they play as well as their hands.

Now, how long do I still need to practice social distancing?

This will depend on how the social distancing measures will be effective as adviced by the Ministry of Health, and how much the community is able to slow the pandemic down.

 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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