Opinion

Social Distancing is Crucial

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Julie Ngalle discusses why social distancing is so crucial in the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Julie Ngalle

You will have heard the term ‘social distancing’ by now, and probably come across, read or listened to people from the media to your households talk about it. Yet the number of people still out and about doing their thing, strolling about, having picnics and even throwing “lockdown” parties tend to show otherwise. So although this topic might sound repetitive, we thought it good to remind everyone why it is so important to stay indoors.

In case you missed it, on the 11th of March 2020 the World Health Organisation officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic. A pandemic by definition refers to the “the worldwide spread of a disease.” This meant that the infection and spread of the virus that started in China had become a global concern. 

Following this announcement, the increase in cases and deaths in several countries such as France, Spain and Italy, many governments put in place quarantine and isolation plans to slow down and eventually stop the spread of the virus. In the three countries mentioned above, for example, heads of state announced forced measures of isolations with curfews, sanctions and police patrolling to make sure people stay indoors.

In the UK, the government has not been as strict yet, as although most public spaces that are deemed not essential for citizen’s wellbeing have now shut, isolation was introduced as more of a recommendation than an obligation. This slight difference in wording is something many have therefore taken literally, as many continue with their daily activities and life as if nothing had changed.

Amongst younger people, a shocking 46% of 18 to 24 year-olds have admitted they do not intend on changing their lifestyle. One in ten of the same demographic also admitted they still would not choose to self-isolate even if they start developing symptoms according to a study by YouGov. 

Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical measure put in place to accelerate the healing of people who may have contracted an illness and avoid other people contracting it as well. In order for it to work, it is crucial that people keep a minimum distance of 6ft between each other but also just reduce or stop coming in close contact with each other. 

Self-isolation is the next step in social distancing, and as said in the word, it is simply the act of isolating oneself from everyone. Coronavirus being a disease we still do not know how to cure and are still unsure how is transmitted exactly, although knowing it is through airways, the only effective way to fight it that we know of is social distancing. 

Although to some, isolation might be an overreaction, unnecessary or just annoying, the reality behind these measures is much more serious. It’s crucial you take social distancing seriously.

One major reason is to protect your health. Coronavirus is not something pleasant. For one, it can have life-threatening effects due to it attacking your respiratory system. Even if you experience mild symptoms, contracting the disease is still no walk in the park. Victims have testified suffering from very high fevers and dizziness in the best cases and shortness of breath, hallucination and high levels of anxiety. 

Additionally, although contrary to popular belief, young people are not immune. Many teens and young adults have contracted the virus and on the 26th of March, France, unfortunately, reported the first death of a 16-year-old girl after she contracted the virus, in Portugal, it was a 14-year-old. Both were perfectly healthy and had no medical history. Staying inside could save your life. 

Having said all of the above, many have luckily found that they are not as threatened as others. Even in that case however, if coronavirus is not something you are afraid of contracting, which it is the case for 49% of British citizens, it is still essential you think of all the others who are trying to avoid this: you are not just staying inside for yourself

As widely explained the elderly – think your parents, grandparents, sweet Doris down the road – are highly at risk of catching it and also more vulnerable due to weakened immune systems. People, regardless of age, who suffer from chronic illnesses or past medical issues are also very vulnerable. In their case, you staying indoors can be life-changing and saving. 

No one expects that everyone stays indoors at all times for months, but the government permits us to go outside for exercise for an hour a day. You can also go shopping for essential food and medical supplies, and attend to those in need as long as this is done responsibly. These are measures that will be reviewed in three weeks so could be amended depending on the population’s response but also responsibility towards these. 

Stay safe, stay indoors, for yourself and for others. 

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