Social distancing remains vital to prevent spread of Covid-19

Social distancing remains of the utmost importance to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19. This means we must limit close face-to-face contact with others and maintain a safe space between ourselves and people not from our household.

Even if you have been vaccinated against the Covd-19 virus you should continue to wear a mask outside the home and maintain a physical distance of at least one metre but preferably two metres from anyone outside your household, that is anyone who does not live in the same house or flat as you. Having been vaccinated enables your immune system to fight against the virus when it enters your body so that it does not make you unwell. While it is fighting the virus, you may be able to pass it on to someone else.

The coronavirus spreads mainly when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and infected droplets from the mouth or nose are launched into the air and inhaled by people nearby.  The droplets may also land on surfaces which other people may later touch, providing another avenue for the spread of the virus, when someone touches an infected surface and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes.

This is why it is important to regularly wash or sanitise your hands, periodically disinfect surfaces and objects, avoid unnecessarily touching door handles, hand rails and other objects that are touched by others and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Since most infected people do not display symptoms, there is no way of knowing whether you have the virus or whether someone else has it, other than by being tested for it. If you test negative today that does not mean you might not pick up the virus tomorrow.

Thus social distancing is important. We need to behave as if we and the person next to us might have the virus, because we might.

We all have a role to play in slowing the spread of the virus, as well as in protecting ourselves, our family and others we come in contact with. We can do this effectively by maintaining a physical distance of two metres from others, wearing masks outside the home and being vaccinated, as well as through frequently washing or sanitising our hands.

The reality of Covid-19 hit many of us in January when daily deaths were in double digits and people we knew passed away as a result of Covid-19. Once intensified lockdown measures resulted in a reduction in deaths and new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and lockdown regulations were relaxed many people relaxed as well and social distancing declined. However, Covid-19 is still with us. People are still dying from Covid-19. Social distancing is still important for our own safety and that of others. Apart from maintaining a social distance of two metres or as close to that as practicable when going outside the home, we should also adhere to lockdown regulations in relation to how many people may gather for events.  Public gatherings, including church gatherings, should not exceed 50 people. Funerals should not be attended by more than 30 people. Restaurants should not accept more people than 50% of their capacity.

Unfortunately many people and places are ignoring these restrictions on numbers. The more crowded a place is the more difficult it is to maintain the correct social distancing. So if you know that various places or events are likely to exceed the stipulated restricted numbers or to be too crowded to observe social distancing, it is better not to go to them.

It is a common tradition to shake hands at funerals when paying condolences. Some people even offer a hug. This practice should stop until the Covid-19 pandemic is over or herd immunity is achieved and the Ministry of Health and Child Care advises it is safe to resume it. The same applies when at church. Avoid physical contact with others.

If you have to be in a crowded space, try to keep the minimum two metre distance between yourself and others at all times. Make sure you wear your mask correctly. Masks are especially important in times when physical distancing is difficult.

Pay attention to any physical guides such as tape markings on floors or benches intended to help you maintain the correct distance from others. Allow other people two metres of space when you pass by them in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Prepare for your transport in advance. Consider social distancing options to travel safely when running errands or commuting to and from work  When using public transport, try to keep a safe distance from other passengers and bus conductors. Maintain a safe distance when you are waiting at a bus stop or selecting seats on a bus or train.

If sharing a ride when car-pooling, avoid rides where multiple passengers are picked up. Sit in the back seat in larger vehicles so you can remain at a distance from others.

Limit contact with people when carrying out your daily business or running errands. Only visit stores selling household essentials when you absolutely need to. Maintain physical distancing from others who are not from your household while shopping or in queues at the till point.

Where possible, use drive-through, curbside pick-up or delivery services to limit face-to-face contact with others. Maintain a physical distance between yourself and the delivery person and wear a mask. Participate in safe social activities. Remember it is possible to stay socially connected with friends and family by calling, using video chat or staying connected through social media.

If meeting others at small outdoor gatherings with friends or family members, try to stay at least two metres from those who are not from your household.

Try to exercise at home or by going for a run, walk or bike ride in your neighbourhood or another safe location where you can maintain  a physical distance between yourself and others. If you decide to visit a nearby park or recreational facility, first check if it is open and consider how many other people might be there. Choose a location where it will be possible to stay distanced from others.

Let’s all play our part in keeping safe and preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — igo@cimas.co.zw or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.