Reducing the spread of COVID-19 has introduced a new way of human interaction that is limiting face-to-face contact. Social distancing has changed how we act and interact with friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers. In an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19, people all over the world are being asked to take this precautionary measure.
WHAT IS SOCIAL DISTANCING?
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing is defined as ‘remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance approximately 6 feet or 2 meters from others when possible’. Congregate settings are considered public places that are crowded and close contact with others may occur, such as markets, shopping centres, movie theatres, stadia, churches, night club, schools to mention but a few.
The aim of social distancing is to reduce person-to-person spread, which happens when a healthy person comes into contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person.
WHY PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING?
Giving the above challenges COVID-19 presents and the fact that medical researchers are yet to find a vaccine for the COVID-19, we must all try, irrespective of our current health status and age to practice the guidelines of social distancing in order to flatten the curve and reduce stress on Ghana’s health care system. In order to avoid the spread, we are all to act as if we have the virus and approach other people as if they have it too. This level of caution may sound outrageous, but has become our best bet in an attempt to slow down the spread of the Corona virus.
TIPS FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING
Staying home is the safest and most effective way to practice social distancing. If possible, you should only go out for very important supplies such as medications, groceries and doctor’s appointments. If you’re still required to report to work, practice social distancing while away from home, wash your hands as often as possible with soap under running water for 20 seconds, wear a mask and use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Keep medical appointments that are very important and urgent
To help ease pressure on the doctors or health facilities, call the doctor’s office ahead of time to ask about policies and procedures for meeting the appointment examples wearing a nose mask and taking your temperature prior to arriving. If its possible have a virtual meeting with your doctor against having to make a trip to the hospital since the hospital is the last place you want to visit during this pandemic.
Grocery Stores and Pharmacies
Go to the grocery stores and pharmacies when its less busy, if possible, adhere to the 2 metres or 6-foot guideline at all times while you are shopping for essentials, especially when standing in the checkout line/ queue. Many stores and pharmacies have guidelines on how many people can be in the stores or pharmacy on the floor (in 6-foot increments) to keep the appropriate distance at checkout lines.
Go Digital / Maintain Social Contact via Technology
Consider online ordering and choosing at-home delivery for both groceries and prescriptions. Work from home if that option is available to you, take college classes online, and conduct any outside business that you can at home. Stay in touch with friends, family, and co-workers via video chat, text messaging and talking on the phone.
Home Deliveries / Take-out
As much as possible, ask to make payment over the phone or online. This helps protect you and the person delivering your items since monies are likely to be contaminated with virus as it changes hands. When going for take-out, send one member of the family, especially if you have to go into a restaurant to pay and pick up the food. All deliveries must be left at the door to avoid having personal contact with the delivery person.
Go Outside and Exercise
You can still get outdoors and go for a walk, run, or ride your bike at an isolated or a less congested park or walk way. Exercising outside is fine as long as you are practising social distancing. This maintaining a distance of 6 feet between you and other people. Exercising is good for both our physical and mental health.
Keep Your Distance in an Elevator
If the elevator has more than one person, try to wait for the next one or take the stairs. While in the elevator, turn away from anyone also in it and wear your nose mask.
Maintain Good Personal Hygiene
Additionally wash your hands with soap and water under running water for at least twenty (20) seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available, especially after being in public. If possible, take a shower, clean shoes/ slippers and wash clothes to avoid contaminating other family members or infecting yourself with COVID-19. Clean shared surfaces such as tables, keyboards, pin pads at point of sale locations, offices and grocery cart handle, before and after you come into contact with them.
Avoid None Medical appointments that are not Essential
Avoid non-essential appointments that put you in close contact with other people such as visits to the beauty salon, barbers, massage and spas, manicures and physical therapist, and any other non-essential doctor’s appointment that you can delay.
Do not visit gyms or exercise in crowded places
Avoid tight or crowded running or walking paths, sidewalks, or tracks that prevent you from practicing social distancing. It is important that we exercise to stay healthy but we must keep the appropriate distance and avoid touching others while exercising.
Avoid Physical Contact with Non-Family Members
Avoid shaking hands, giving hugs, high-fives, pats on the back, or any other physical contact with anyone who is not a member of your immediate family (those living in your home). If there, is a need to see a family member who does not live in your home, do well to drop an essential item such their medication social distantly or do it through a delivery person.
Do not go to Crowded Establishments
Avoid restaurants, the gym, public basketball courts, dance halls, trampoline parks, and any other spaces where people are in close contact with each other.
Avoid Travels /Vacations
Now is not the time to book a trip involving a cruise ship, airplane, train, bus, or any other mode of transportation that requires people to be in close proximity. Also, avoid hotels, resorts, and other accommodations that have more than the recommended amount of people for a gathering.
Do not Hoard Supplies
Avoid the pressure to over-prepare and do not hoard food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, thermometers, or masks. Only purchase what you need. This consumer frenzy is resulting in crowds of people pouring into stores and making it impossible to practice social distancing.
Do not Allow Non-Family Members into Your Home
Keep your home restricted to immediate family members or housemates that already live there full-time. As much as possible postpone all repairs / works that requires the expertise of persons that don’t live in your home.
Avoid playdates and sleepovers
As children stay home and cannot go out to play with their friends or neighbours because schools, churches and other social gathering are restricted. It may be tempting to get children together for play-dates or sleepovers, parents/ guardians must do well to avoid play-dates and sleepovers. However, if you cannot avoid that, ensure they practice social distancing at all times.
As much as this guideline from the CDC is difficult to follow, it is one of the surest ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Thus, we must adjust our daily lives and make sacrifices to slow the spread of the coronavirus. While learning a “new normal” is never easy, with time, things will get better. In addition, this precautionary measure can help protect our loved ones and keep our health care systems from becoming overwhelmed. Lastly, steps like social distancing may feel like an inconvenience, but it is the best way right now to protect our family, friends, and neighbours who may be vulnerable.
American Academy of Paediatrics. Social Distancing: Why keeping your distance Helps Keep others Safe, retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/Social-Distancing-Why-Keeping-Your-Distance-Helps-Keep-Others-Safe.aspx
Very well mind. The do and don’ts of social distancing retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-dos-and-don-ts-of-social-distancing-4800573
Source: Public Affairs Unit Desk