On Monday 24 March 2020, after several weeks of social distancing, President Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would go into lockdown at midnight on Thursday 26 March. This was a decisive and not unexpected move from our President to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus, now known as Covid-19. Sadly, the social distancing measures enforced on March 18, did not have the impact that the country had hoped to see on the spread of the novel virus.
Unless you’ve been cooped up in your student digz with no internet you will likely have heard this one term repeated over and over again since the outbreak of Covid-19 in South Africa: ‘social distancing’. The question is, what exactly is social distancing? And how do you do it amid a lockdown when you need to buy food or medicines.? Here’s what you need to know.
What does social distancing mean?
Social distancing means precisely that – distancing yourself from social situations, and people in general unless it is unavoidable. This translates into cancelling parties and social gatherings for the next three to four weeks, not inviting friends round to share a meal, and essentially staying at home unless you have no other choice but to go out, such as to shop for groceries or to buy toilet paper (good luck with that).
Why is social distancing important?
Social distancing is important as it can help limit the spread of the virus. Covid-19 is spread mainly through person-to-person contact from droplets. The reality, however, is that a person can be a carrier of the virus and be contagious without necessarily showing symptoms or coming across as ‘sick’. This is why it is imperative that everyone practices strict social distancing, even if they are young and feel healthy.
A how-to guide to social distancing
The long and short of it is to STAY AT HOME. Say ‘no’ to any social contact with friends or family who do not currently live with you, and only venture outdoors if you truly have to. In the event that you need to go to the shops, the pharmacy etc. there are a few precautions that you should take to ensure your safety and that of others:
- Try to avoid going out at ‘peak’ times, such as Saturday afternoons or between 4pm – 7pm during the week.
- Practice good hygiene and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your flexed elbow.
- Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with you everywhere you go and use it regularly in between hand-washing sessions.
- Try to keep a minimum of a one – to two-meter distance between you and anyone with whom you come into contact.
- Get the things you need to do done quickly and return home without delay.
Distance is key
Lockdown and social distancing might seem like extreme measures, but it is imperative that all South Africans take it seriously to help ‘flatten the curve’ and slow the spread. Without it, the virus will continue its reign of terror for months upon months and wreak havoc on our already struggling healthcare system. Keep well, everybody. This too shall pass.