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What Is Social Distancing And How Does It Prevent Coronavirus Spreading?

First of all, there’s a difference between social distancing and self isolation. Self isolation is essential if you have tested positive for COVID-19, you have been identified as a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection, or you have entered Australia from anywhere overseas.

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath while house-bound, call your doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. When you call, tell them where you have travelled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case.

If your symptoms are severe visit your local Emergency Department and immediately tell staff where you have travelled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case. If you have a surgical mask handy, wear one.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means keeping distance and reducing contact between yourself and other people. This means staying home if you feel unwell, avoiding large public gatherings, minimising physical contact and keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible.

What does social distancing do?

The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread. The transmission of COVID-19 occurs through the spread of droplets produced by an infected person.

“Droplets introduced to our body through someone’s cough or sneeze, or if we touch a contaminated surface and then rub our eyes, nose or mouth, look to be the biggest factors in spread so far,” Dr Kieran Kennedy told Women’s Health.

Minimising direct contact between people can help reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus, slowing the rate of transmission through out the community.

You might have heard the phrase “flatten the curve” in recent days. This is what epidemiologists and health authorities are trying achieve with the spread of COVID-19.

A high curve means that the virus is spreading quickly throughout the community leading to an overwhelming impact on our healthcare system and worse outcomes for those most vulnerable. A lower or flatter curve means coronavirus is spreading slowly so our hospitals have more time and resources to handle cases and save more lives. See an excellent example below.

Who needs to do self distancing? 


How do I practice social distancing IRL?

So can you still get the train to the pub to have a wine with some friends? Is work cancelled? Are you expected to be locked in doors forever more?

Health authorities have said it is fine to go to work, school and social occasions but they recommend following social distancing protocols where possible. These include promoting strict hygiene, using tap and pay rather than handling money, commuting at quiet times, avoiding crowds, cancelling unnecessary meetings, and reducing work-related travel, for example. 

Here is a full run down of social distancing guidance.

Many workplaces and institutions have implemented these, and additional, processes to encouraging social distancing like working from home where possible.

From Monday 16 March, the Australian Government has banned non-essential gatherings for over 500 people for example festivals and football games. As cases of coronavirus increase it’s likely that the Government will increase stricter social distancing requirements. 

Can I go to the gym?

Gyms are already considered a bit of a hot spot for germs so is attending your regular yoga class ok?

Short answer, yes.

Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has said for now “going to the gym is fine, but everyone needs to practice very good hygiene”.

Most gyms have significantly stepped up their hygiene practices but it’s essential you also keep on top of yours by regularly cleaning your hands, wiping down equipment, refraining from touching your face, and keeping your distance from other people.

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