Finding The Right Balance for Social Distancing

By Ben Hamill - March 20 2020
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Finding The Right Balance for Social Distancing

As the Coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate, governments all over the world are turning up the volume on the social distancing advice. But what exactly is social distancing? And how much is “too much”? Worst yet, how much is not enough? As is mostly the case with seemingly extreme and unfamiliar scenarios, a lot of what’s being ordered by health officials and governments can appear strange and even intimidating. This is especially true when strange new terminology appears to be a familiar instalment in everyone’s vocabulary but one’s own. It helps then to know that this is yet another shared experience and the fact that we continue to grapple with understanding what “it all” means during challenging times is at the same time what makes us human and what serves as proof and also a comfort that really, we’re all in this together.

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A concept like social distancing, when explained, can often seem logical and confusing all at once. And this is because its both unfamiliar territory as well as a concept that seems to go against our grain as humans. Isolation simply isn’t part of humanity’s natural make-up. We may “get” that keeping our distance from other human beings makes sense in terms of slowing the spread of a virus or infection, but it remains a notion difficult to wrap our heads around. And it has nothing at all to do with our individual capacities to grasp the sense behind a concept.

Getting Down To Basics

Humanity has for as long as what time is old struggled with the concept of “how much is too much?”. For example, we know, from government guidelines, that gatherings of for example more than 250 people are considered unsafe. But does that mean that “249” is essentially in the clear?

According to clinical professor of global health at the University of Maryland, Muhiuddin Haider, the short answer is “no”. Its not so much the actual count that matters as what it is the bottom-line principle behind the guideline, which is to as far as possible reduce the transmission of the virus. And since we don’t have any vaccine or antiviral solution for the Coronavirus yet, we all have a part to play in “keeping the distance”.

It Makes Sense When You Think

As it stands at the moment, every person who is sick appears to affect 2 or 3 other people. The idea behind social distancing is to “break the cycle”, says Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. And what this basically comes down to, is that a much more intense and aggressive concept of social distancing must be enforced.

All in all, it appears to be thing of applying sound reason. When going out in public, limit movements to essential trips. Try not to travel – not even on domestic flights. Suggest working from home if at all possible. Boost your immune system by eating healthy and getting in some exercise. Wash your hands.

These measures may be simple, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective.

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