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Why do we need to socially-distance during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 mostly spreads from person to person. The virus is transmitted via tiny droplets from infected people when they cough, sneeze, talk or sing. An individual who might be in close proximity to an infected person can then inhale the virus and get infected themselves. The virus can even spread through people who do not show any symptoms, but are infected with COVID-19. It is not only important to stay home and maintain social distance if you have symptoms, but it is necessary to maintain physical distance even when one may not have symptoms, in order to keep oneself and others around safe from getting infected through any asymptomatic or presymptomatic cases. U.S. CDC and WHO, therefore, recommend that social distancing should be maintained indoors and outdoors between people who are not from the same household. Social distancing, along with other preventative measures, like hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and using face masks (the U.S. CDC now recommends wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask), can reduce the spread of COVID-19 to a great extent.

This article was published on
February 17, 2021

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What our experts say

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 mostly spreads from person to person. The virus is transmitted via tiny droplets from infected people when they cough, sneeze, talk or sing. An individual who might be in close proximity to an infected person can then inhale the virus and get infected themselves. The virus can even spread through people who do not show any symptoms, but are infected with COVID-19.

It is not only important to stay home and maintain social distance if you have symptoms, but it is necessary to maintain physical distance even when one may not have symptoms, in order to keep oneself and others around safe from getting infected through any asymptomatic or presymptomatic cases.

U.S. CDC and WHO, therefore, recommend that social distancing should be maintained indoors and outdoors between people who are not from the same household. Social distancing, along with other preventative measures, like hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and using face masks (the U.S. CDC now recommends wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask), can reduce the spread of COVID-19 to a great extent.

Context and background

As per the U.S. CDC, social distancing or physical distancing means keeping a safe space between oneself and those from another household. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 the recommended distance is 6 feet. In addition to maintaining the 6 feet distance, there are several ways to avoid exposure to large groups of people, such as: working from home; avoiding crowded restaurants, shops,  movie theaters; not attending group gatherings; avoiding long-distance travel; etc.

Resources

  1. Social Distancing (U.S. CDC)
  2. Coronavirus, Social and Physical Distancing and Self-Quarantine (Johns Hopkins)
  3. What is social distancing and why is it needed? (Jackson Lab)
  4. The power of social distancing (UChicago Medicine)
  5. Maximizing Fit for Cloth and Medical Procedure Masks to Improve Performance and Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Exposure, 2021 (U.S. CDC)

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