A pandemic has a crippling effect on society, making it impossible to carry out simple day-to-day tasks without making it worse for others. If you come in contact with the disease, its contagious feature not only puts your life at risk but also the people around you. This is why social distancing plays an important role in the prevention of the spread of the disease during a pandemic. Think of it as a greater good where your only part is to limit distance with others.
What Should Be the Practice?
Social distancing is a type of a non-pharmaceutical measure taken to put a stop to the spread of a contagious disease. To practice social distancing, stay at least 2 meters (6 feet) from other people, avoid mass gatherings and crowded places, and do not gather in groups. To be more specific, we should avoid small or large gatherings in public and private spaces such as restaurants, shops, parks and friends/relatives’ houses. That being said, it is extremely important to avoid public transportation at all costs. If we practice social distancing, we can reduce the number of people who are sick at a time. This will make it possible for doctors and nurses to care for those who have already contracted the disease. The implementation of strategies for social distancing is challenging. They likely must be imposed for the duration of the epidemic at hand and possibly be continued until a vaccine is developed and distributed. If communities do not abide by the rules of social distancing, the virus will continue to spread to neighboring communities as well making it harder for healthcare systems to control the situation, let alone improve it.
You might be also interested in: How to Survive a Plague, Pandemic or Any Viral Outbreak
Social Distancing can Flatten the Curve
Social distancing helps to “flatten the curve” thereby, reducing the number of possible new infected cases and making the lives of healthcare systems comparatively easier. The curve refers to the projected number of people who will contract the disease within a certain amount of time. Unless there is a vaccine for the stated disease, the only way to flatten the curve is through the collective measure. i.e. social distancing. A flatter curve project the same number of possible new infected cases but over a longer period. By minimizing physical contact between individuals, social distancing aims to reduce the possible spread of new infections. The idea is to decrease transmission through contact, reduce morbidity due to the virus itself, and thereby decrease the overwhelming effect on health systems. To make social distancing have reached its highest efficiency, educational institutions and workplaces should be closed since these places are filled with large groups of individuals in confined spaces. Gatherings outside institutions should also be prohibited to let social distancing have their utmost effectiveness. As an alternative, work-from-home and online classes should be exercised. Flexible working schedules should be allowed for employees. Tele-conferences and increased use of emails should be initiated to cover the absence of social contact. Besides, mass gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, festivals, trade fairs, conferences and meetings should be canceled. Even though most of these events are conducted outdoors, it still requires a gathering of a large number of people where keeping 6 feet apart rule cannot be brought to function, thereby negating the concept of social distancing. With the help and advancement of technology and social media, artists may choose to entertain their fan base through video concerts or live sessions, thereby creating an alternative outlet for themselves.
The outcome of social distancing takes a period to come into its full effect. Therefore, governments must implement it strictly at the beginning stage of a pandemic. As theoretical as it sounds, preventing people from socializing in person is a lot tougher in reality. Even individuals who have a grasp of the concept of social distancing, might not decide to practice it mostly due to their selfishness. In cases like that it’s pertinent that we express our concern, ask questions, share stories and promise positive outcomes for maintaining social distance. Also, to reduce the number of trips to grocery shops, apartment complexes and neighborhoods may pool in their money to order essential supplies together. Furthermore, some people may want to practice social distancing but are unable to do so since they depend on daily earnings. They need to feed their families with what they earn daily. At the least, we can take help from local communities to raise funds for them. Besides, we could find spaces for people who do not have sufficient shelter to maintain social distancing.
Creating Awareness for Social Distancing
Enacting such a measure like social distancing will not be received the same way by everyone. It is mainly because people’s understanding of the concept is not the same everywhere in the world. Consequently, the core idea of social distancing must be instilled in peoples’ minds. People should be aware of the justification and rationale behind the application of social distancing measures. A key concept is to make such groups of individuals the importance of protecting themselves and their loved ones. Different approaches should be taken to educate different audiences. For example, the native language will play a vital role in this scenario. In the case of the current pandemic that is causing chaos all over the world, it’s mandatory to educate people on social distancing, while listening to their concerns. Uneducated populations should be made self-aware of the symptoms and consequences of contracting the Covid-19. Withal, it should be ensured that they understand how there’s a possibility that the virus can cause death. Therefore, all the measures of social distancing should be strictly followed to prevent the escalation of the deadly disease.
Pandemic as Global Threat
A pandemic poses a serious threat to the entire world, but the same threat takes on a different form in each country. Social distancing is a privilege that every country cannot afford. In countries where the majority of the population has a low income, imposing strict lockdowns and social distancing may lead to an increase in the number of deaths from food deprivation. This is because to feed their families they often depend on daily income. These individuals want to prevent themselves from contracting the illness as well, but just do not want to be impoverished or unemployed at that cost. They put comparatively greater value on their means of living than the possibility of catching the virus. Unemployment and food insecurity are the top unsettling concerns for poor countries although possible fatality due to a pandemic should be more worrisome. Social distancing can thus be counterproductive in such cases. In the long term, this can lead to malnutrition, hunger, as well as other non-virus related health problems. Therefore, if social distancing has to be pursued in such low-income countries, powerful bodies should come up with innovative efforts to provide the necessities to the people who are at most risk of deprivation or hunger. Also, governments, humanitarian groups, technology companies and non-profit organizations of these countries should introduce ways of sending cash via mobile phones.
Social Distancing: Look after Your Mental Health
The unavoidable state of being stuck within four walls may take a toll on the mental health of individuals who were not even subjected to any underlying derangement as such, before a pandemic. Given that their subconscious is unfamiliar to the isolated state of mind, they will most likely be at the peak of vulnerability. Luckily, we are fortunate enough to be present in a time when we are just one tap away from reaching out to a loved one in need. We could focus on that until a pandemic passes. That being said, there are multiple things you can do to keep yourself busy at home such as cook meals, listen to music, read a good book, binge-watch your favorite movies and tv shows, study and play video games. You may also do something as simple as taking naps which you are unable to take under normal circumstances. Under unbearable conditions only, you may indulge in few activities while of course maintaining physical distancing. These include going for a run or a bike ride, driving around the neighborhood, gardening, or just taking a walk whilst ensuring a minimum of 6 feet apart from others at all times.
During a pandemic survival, we must look at the bigger picture and maintain social distancing to keep ourselves and our families safe. At the end of the day, losing the freedom to go out and socialize with your friends or loved ones is a small price to pay for protecting lives. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in a crisis like that. But until the situation stabilizes, we should prepare our mindset for the long term. In the meantime, our prime focus should be to avert the expansion of a pandemic. Feel free to subscribe to our newsletters and leave a comment below if you think there are more effective measures to be taken in a pandemic.