You’re probably aware of the term ‘social distancing’ now.
Keeping your distance from others during the Covid-19 pandemic is a vital part of slowing the spread of the virus because its survival depends on us passing it to one another.
Part of the Ministry of Health’s pandemic response is therefore social distancing. But what does that look like?
Here are a few tips from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (information correct as of March 18, 2020):
Avoid crowded spaces
The Government has already put restrictions in place on public gatherings for over 500 people out doors and 100 in doors. This affects festivals, sporting events, religious gatherings and large events.
Cancelling these events helps to stop cluster outbreaks where one person can infect multiple people with the virus.
Avoiding crowded spaces can also mean avoiding going to the gym at peak times, travelling on public transport or shopping in crowded malls and going to bars and restaurants.
It’s important to note at this stage there are currently no restrictions on any public spaces or schools in New Zealand, but this could change.
Another way of avoiding large groups is to order items you need such as your weekly groceries online and have them delivered to your home to avoid supermarket queues where you might have close contact with others.
If you're unable to do that make sure you clean your hands and items that may have been touched by others when you get home.
Avoid unnecessary contact with others
This includes hugging and shaking hands. The virus is spread by close contact between people and not hugging and shaking hands can help with slowing the spread of the disease.
Keeping at least a 1 metre distance from a person can also help. This is a recommendation from the World Health Organization to safeguard yourself if you come in contact with someone who has the virus and they cough or sneeze around you.
Work from home if you can
This isn’t possible for a lot of people, but for those who can, working from home and reducing the amount of people in the office can not only help you from contracting the virus, but also spreading it to others.
For those who can’t stay home, having good personal hygiene and keeping a physical distance from people are the best practices. As well as covering sneezes and coughs and regularly washing your hands or using hand sanitiser.
Can I go outside?
Yes, you can go outside, you can go to the supermarket and any other small gatherings as well as most public places as long as you keep a reasonable distance from others to stop the spread of viruses. It’s also important to avoid touching your face and wash your hands after you’ve been out in public.
Can I visit family and friends?
This will depend on your family and friends' health. If they’re well and aren’t sneezing or coughing or have any other symptoms, then keeping the rules of distancing and washing hands is important.
If you aren’t feeling well or have come in contact with someone who is sick, it’s best to stay away for those who are vulnerable and for your friends and family’s health.
What social distancing doesn’t mean
It doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from the world or ignoring people while out in public. It just means taking sensible precautions to stop yourself and others from becoming infected.
The World Health Organization recommends that people stay in contact with others through technology as much as possible.
Social distancing isn’t a cure for Covid-19 and won’t eliminate the spread of the virus, but it will help curb the outbreak and protect those most vulnerable to the virus.