To stop the spread of COVID-19, WHO and governments around the globe have put forward specific protocols. Following proper hygiene, covering face with masks, self-quarantine, and maintaining physical distances are three of the primary protocols.
However, as the days passed, the word social distancing has gained a different meaning than what it was initially supposed to mean. The idea behind it is to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, and maintain physical distance. It was said so because the virus is known to travel through respiratory droplets to a particular distance or stay on the hands or clothes.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO member, also said that they are using the word physical distancing instead of social distancing (1). A quote from one of the briefings by Dr. Maria mentioned in WHO, ” keeping the physical distance from people so that we can prevent the virus from transferring to one another; that’s absolutely essential. But it doesn’t mean that socially we have to disconnect from our loved ones, from our family.”
She also quoted, “We’re changing to say physical distance, and that’s on purpose because we want people to still remain connected.”
Is Social Distancing the Same as Physical Distancing?
No. The word physical distancing means that people maintain physical distance from one another. Physical distancing can be a part of social distancing when in public places.
Social distancing may also mean to inhibit or distance oneself from socializing or connecting with others via phone or internet.
Why Is Physical Distancing Necessary?
Respiratory diseases like COVID-19 are often spread through respiratory droplets. When a person suffering from the infection coughs or sneezes, the virus comes out along with the respiratory droplets. It is told that these droplets can travel up to a maximum of 6 feet or less before they fall to the ground or settle down on the surface.
So, to avoid catching the infection or from sticking to our clothes or our body, a minimum physical distance of 6 feet is generally suggested.
Why Is Social Connectivity Important?
Yes, social connectivity is essential, especially during times like COVID-19 quarantine.
You may ask why? At the end of the day, we all are social animals. Connectivity and socializing have been a key part of the survival of humans for ages. Emotions of being loved or cared for and belongingness are some of the key motivational aspects that drive and keep the humans sane.
Being a part of something or someone’s life also makes us feel more responsible. All these things make us feel safe and give an affirmation that we have to live for a good life, spread smiles, fight through the hardships no matter what.
Being left out or ignored can be as painful as physical pain, in fact, it may last longer than the most physical pains.
Especially during times like lockdowns of COVID-19, staying socially connected is way more important. It is one of the key ways we all could survive this pandemic nightmare. Staying connected via social media or phone and showing care & love makes us more responsible and prevents us from taking any wrong steps.
Besides, staying in touch with others is also one of the best ways to stay updated and adapt to healthier practices. Although not staying under the same roof, staying socially connected gives us an assurance that they are safe and happy irrespective of how far they physically live. The best way to practice social connection during this isolation:
- Text/call your family members or friends
- Join an online chat or support groups (to support those who are lonely )
- Play online games
- Share positive information or quotes (to help your friends’ list on social media get some motivation)
Physical distancing practices to stop the spread
Practicing Physical Distancing Plays a Significant Role in Curbing the Spread of Infections. It Includes Various Forms of Practices, Below Listed Are a Few:
- Working out at home, instead of jogging or working out in parks or gyms
- Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between one another when outside
- No gatherings of family or friends
- Avoiding any social events
- Limiting the self from going outdoors
- Only go out shopping when it is necessary
- Avoiding hand-shakes or hugs with others when in public spaces
- Work from home instead of going to the office or to your friend’s place
Other Essential Practices of Physical Distancing:
- Do not go to the grocery or retail stores during busy hours or when there is a crowd. Instead, choose an hour when there is a lesser crowd or make sure to maintain the physical distance when you are out for shopping.
- If you are distributing anything to the needful, do it alone or with a small group. Make sure that you maintain physical distance and cover yourself properly to avoid catching or spreading the infection.
- If you are getting food delivered at home, use digital payment methods. Also, ask the delivery person to leave the package at the door (instead of picking it directly from the hand).
- If you are going out to hospitals, maintain the distance and do not lean on the reception counters or stay away from holding anything, if possible.
Has It Been Successful?
Yes, physical distancing has been so far successful; it is clearly visible from China. It has imposed strict travel restrictions and strictly followed home isolation or quarantine.
The government also used phone tracking devices to monitor the movements and prevented people from traveling or mass gatherings. It also closed down all the colleges, schools, offices, and other public spaces in the initial days, which helped them in controlling the spread to a great extent.
Are There Any Negative Impacts of Physical Distancing?
Yes, there are some side effects or negative impacts of physical distancing(2). For older people or those staying alone, quarantine or physical distancing could increase their loneliness. Besides, older people may also have massive trouble in doing their own work.
However, there is no restriction on social distancing. So, it is always a good idea to stay in touch with your loved ones via the internet or phone. It not only helps them but
Should you also maintain a physical distance with the people you live
If possible, yes, you may maintain physical distance even with your family members. If not possible, make sure that things you share, such as bathrooms, kitchen, or living rooms, are clean and are disinfected at regular intervals.
With the advanced technology we possess, we can stay connected with others even if we are not living in the same house, city, or even country. Here, it is impossible to maintain social distance in these times.
On the other hand, staying socially connected is one of the best ways to safeguard the psychological health of ours and the ones that we care for.