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Corona virus (COVID-19) & Social / Physical Distancing—What & How—Community Safety for all

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic in Canada

Catastrophe or natural disasters are never scheduled. They are unpredictable and sudden- they strike without any prior intimation or warning. The outbreak of Corona

virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is one of the best examples for that matter, which has disrupted life of almost every individual world over, as we all know it. Corona virus COVID-19 was never on our priority list of severe diseases or alarming conditions which can lead to such devastation. We all were caught off guard, per se. What is happening today due to this virus condition on the global arena, we all are very well aware of, and we all are afraid and baffled too. Public, government, health authorities, officials no one knows precisely how we can gain control over this dreadful situation and widely spreading infection every moment.

Every day we receive information about government initiatives, strategies, plans to tackle the situation, measures to bring down the casualties etc. Nonetheless, we have limited knowledge pertaining to the exact science behind the occurrence of this disease and effective treatment modalities to timely contain it. Many contradictory and confusing views and management strategies prevailing globally are creating anxiety and confusion in minds of people.

COVID-19 is a serious health threat, as we know and the situation is evolving daily. As per the data, until now above 21,000 people have already lost their lives globally due to corona virus infection and every day new cases are adding up to the existing ones. The risk varies between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is also equally high. In Ontario, above 600 cases, and in Canada above 2500 cases have been reported so far with above 25 deaths due to virus infection.

Whether all or major global population will be affected or not by corona virus is a guessing game, however, it is obvious that this infection has created a significant impact on health care system globally. Hence, if we do not flatten this epidemic curve now, then everyday increasing number of COVID-19 cases could influence health care resources available to Canadians as well.

In relation with our preparedness to tackle this crisis and in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our life, everyone has a role to play. Government is doing its job, our healthcare has already geared up to combat the condition, but as conscious citizens, it’s our duty and responsibility to do our part. It takes more than governments and action from the health sector to protect the health and safety of people. Each of us can help our province and our nation to be prepared in the event of an emergency by understanding how corona virus spreads, and how to prevent illness and casualties.

With governments globally recommending people to practice social distancing and self-isolate, Social Distancing seems to be the biggest measure helpful to stop the spread of coronavirus. Health officials world over have instructed the public to practice social distancing by means of -- staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from touching one another. Ottawa Public Health has launched a new social media campaign to encourage people to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of all Canadians. Ottawa Public Health outlines 'Safe' social distancing guidelines in which Social distancing means -avoiding crowds and maintaining a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you. The Health authority also recommends people work from home if possible, and avoid visiting places of mass gatherings.

Social distancing is pretty much confusing. Not all people are comfortable or happy with the idea of this social separation. We know that one of the primary sources of comfort for humans is connection. Humans are social animals and we can’t survive without remaining in physical and social contact or communication with each other. Having said that, in my opinion, what we have been recommended to follow is “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” since we are very much connected with our near and dear ones, families and friends living far away through social media. In today’s time, social media such as TV, Facebook, whatsapp, twitter, Instagram etc play great role in keeping us updated about the latest happenings globally and connected with each other. However, “social distancing” is a term we are using universally.

Although living in isolation can be lonely, inconvenient and even frightening, it's for the greater good for every one of us to stay away from each other until the resolution of the crisis. Staying home, isolating yourself, especially in case of you have traveled abroad it becomes mandatory to isolate for at least 14 days’ period as per the recommendation by doctors and health authorities to prevent the community spread of this infection.

As an informed citizen, we must be aware of the fact that large gatherings, crowds or mass congregation can have the potential for serious public health consequences if they are not planned and managed carefully. They can increase the spread of infectious diseases and cause additional strain on the health care system during outbreaks. There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for people—aged 65 and over, those with compromised immune systems, those with underlying medical conditions, people in palliative care, chronically ill and moribund patients.

At this crucial hour it’s mandatory to think about the collective rather than the individual benefits. Grocery stores, doctor's offices, urgent care and pharmacist places are essential services one can make visit if you are in need of. But right now, staying home as much as possible is the best way to lower infection rates in community. Restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, sports venues, museums and unnecessary outing or travel for luxury can be very easily avoided.

Public Health’s suggestions for practicing social distancing can be applicable to every one in every part of the world as safety practices during Corona Virus infection condition. Following suggestions can be considered as Commandments, which are helpful to all of us, which we can practice for ourselves as well as for a great good of the society.

a. Washing hands— Protection of all and prevention of disease starts from here. Practice of self hygiene, especially washing your hands frequently, before and after touching anything is simple yet very important measure, everyone must exercise. Children must be taught this to do regularly.

b. Shopping— Go shopping for only essential things. Any unnecessary or cosmetic shopping can be very much avoided right now. Less exposure outside means less probability for infection spread.

c. Going to grocery store—Be strategic about shopping. Go to the store when you believe less people will be shopping. This could be late in evening or early in morning. Make sure to thoroughly wash fruits and veggies after buying them. Wash your hands after touching boxes, after coming back home and before eating.

d. Eating at home—The best idea in this moment of crisis for protection of self and others at home. Stay home goes well with eat at home. Eating with family increases bonding, love, affection, closeness plus the chances of minimising the community infection spread.

e. Take out—Prefer this only when you are unable to cook or food is not available at home. Take out is a better idea than dine-in due to less time, less people contact and probability of less contamination. Check the safety of food you eat. It is better to disinfect the takeout containers and wash hands- before and after- the purchase and eating.

f. Using public transportation—Avoid, if you can. Packing into crowded, poorly ventilated buses/subway car/metro can intensify your risk of infection. Community infection, contamination or cross contaminations are easy to spread and involve those who travel in close, crowded public transit. Frequent hand washing, sneezing into sleeves, staying at specified distance from others must be practised to avoid infection.

g. Wearing facial mask in public—Not recommended for normal people, but for protection of others if you are or suspected to be infected.

h. Work place distancing—Practice as much social distancing as your work allows. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face, eyes and nose and tell others to follow. If you work in healthcare, must wear a face mask and/ face shield.

i. Travel—We know how it all started in first place! So, must avoid any nonessential-short distance/long distance domestic travel. Forget about international travel as of now. Airplanes, trains, buses and cruise ships can pack a lot of people in close quarters for long periods of time, which is a formula for virus transmission.

j. Activities at home—Family fun, Watch movies and TV together, Read Books, Online study, Listen to Music, Video Chat, Cook, write or compose something of your interest etc. Do together which make you all happy and relaxed. Avoid any negative discussion.

Social Distancing/Physical Distancing is the need of the hour. Practice it for the greater good of everyone. Be safe, protect self and others.

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