Social distancing is the phenomenon of infection control actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. To those who are distant from social media, the expression may sound like a politically correct term to describe an old-fashioned messy break-up. The term is the official public health terminology used to describe curfew-like restrictive measures imposed on communities to stop or slow down of a contagious disease, like pandemic influenzas such as HINI in 2009-10 and now Covid – 19 in 2020.
The term was coined following the 1957-58 influenza pandemic when the epidemic killed an estimated 1.1 million worldwide. Epidemiologists found that there were spikes in new cases following public gatherings such as conferences, meetings, and festivals, with infection being highest among school children who were in close contact with peers. Social distancing is most effective when the infection can be transmitted via droplet contact (coughing or sneezing); direct physical contact; indirect physical contact (e.g. by touching a contaminated surface). In the present Scenario, Social distancing has morphed from a popular meme and a trending hashtag to emerge as a front runner for the word of the year.
The motto behind the social distancing process is to decrease the reproduction number which is the average number of secondarily infected individuals generated from one primary infected individual in a population where all individuals are equally susceptible to the disease. Public health experts advocate short term misanthropy during pandemics to prevent infections. It is argued and advocated that lesser the social gatherings, lesser will be the chances of continuing the chain of infection, hence reduced will be the outbreak of the disease. Social distancing may be less effective in cases where the infection is transmitted primarily via contaminated water or food or by vectors such as mosquitoes or other insects.
Methods of Social Distancing:
Social Distancing can be incorporated through the following ways:
- Closing educational institutions viz; school, colleges, hostels institutes
- Workplace closure, that does not maintain primary functions in the community
- Cordon Sanitaire
- Cancellation of mass gatherings such as sports events, films or musical shows
- Closure of recreational facilities (community swimming pools, youth clubs, gymnasiums)
- “Self-shielding” measures for individuals include limiting face-to-face contacts, conducting business by phone or online, avoiding public places and reducing unnecessary travels.
- Avoid shaking hands and always wash hands after contact with others.
- Another method of greeting is a traditional Indian way of saying “Namaste” by placing the palms of both together, while simultaneously pointing the fingers upwards, followed by drawing the hands to the heart.
- During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom, the method was used by Prince Charles upon greeting guests at the Commonwealth. The method has been recommended by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
- Other methods include the shaka sign, a wave and placing the palm of the hand on the heart.
Avoiding crowds and maintaining a distance of about one meter from others lowers the chances of getting infected as covid-19, which spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which are inhaled or swallowed through direct contact or contaminated surfaces. Steering clear from everyone irrespective of symptoms or travel history is the surest way to stay safe.
Adopting social distancing at the start of the epidemic, as is being adopted in some states in the country, has worked in China, where draconian lockdown was more effective than travel bans and other restrictions.
Border restrictions or internal travel restrictions are unlikely to delay an epidemic by more than 2–3 weeks unless it will be implemented with over 99% coverage. Airport screening was found to be ineffective in preventing viral transmission. Travel restrictions aren’t enough unless we couple it with social distancing. The study found that the travel ban in Wuhan only delayed the spread of the disease to other parts of mainland China by three to five days, although it did reduce the spread of international cases by as much as 80 percent. A primary reason that travel restrictions were less effective is that many people with COVID-19 do not show symptoms during the early stages of infection. Drawbacks of social distancing can include depression, reduced economic growth, and the loss of other benefits associated with society but it is fine unless we are concerned with human welfare. School and College sessions can be delayed, meetings can be held later on, marriages can be rescheduled but a virus outbreak can’t be unless we strongly take a decision of distancing ourselves socially from each other for the good of the whole of the humanity.
Keeping in view of the whole of the scenario, all major Schools in Noida were immediately closed. ASPAM SCOTTISH was the first educational institution to be closed in the series. ASPAM encouraged social distancing by canceling PTM and scheduled exam structure and providing online results so as to avoid gatherings. Academics are now being provided online so social distancing does not hamper academic growth. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying an infection, and others who are not infected, so as to keep or human community safe and secure. Let’s all stand up for the cause and distance socially from each other for each other.