In this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, some phrases keep coming up when there is any discussion about breaking the chain of transmission of the virus; “Self-isolation” and “Social Distancing”. Asides the anxiety that keeps rising as a result of concerns about the likelihood of getting infected, some people have a morbid fear of becoming isolated or having to distance themselves from others. There is a need to understand these concepts and be convinced of the fact that this is probably the only way we can break the chain of transmission if there is no available drug for the treatment of this virus.
Social distancing is a concept for everyone. You have to practice this (whether you have been exposed or not). Trust me on this; it can guarantee safety from an infection like coronavirus. While social distancing may not be effective against airborne or vector-borne infections, it will keep you safe from any disease transmitted by direct human contact or proxy human contact. Direct human contact occurs when you physically, intentionally/unintentionally allow your body to come into direct contact with that of someone else. This can be through touch, handshake, hug, kiss, or any other means. Proxy human contact occurs when you touch a surface or object that has been touched by someone else.
We must understand that as humans we are social animals. We subconsciously covet physical contact with others. From infancy through to our adulthood, the touch of someone else has a way of stimulating the release of feel-good hormones in our brain. Hence, social distancing has the potential of making us feel disconnected or lonely. Disconnection and loneliness can make us feel anxious or depressed. All these can impair our functioning or wellbeing.
The way out is to begin to exercise a mental paradigm shift. As humans have been able to learn how to stay connected across the oceans through technology, we can indeed adapt to social distancing. We can remain emotionally connected to others while maintaining social distance. We can stay at home; away from any form of physical contact with random people; persons we don’t know where they have been or who they have touched. It’s best to see everyone else as a potential source of infection and take precautions to avoid unnecessary physical contact. While physical contact enhances emotional connectedness, its lack does not negate it. Don’t put yourself at risk of infection because you want to be polite. It is better to be safer than sorry!
Personally make a list of the reasons you might have to touch a stranger or a familiar person who has been places where you don’t know. Begin to learn alternative ways of interaction that will keep you safe without any social embarrassment. It’s like visiting a new country where they have a different culture with regards to human interaction. You can learn their way of greeting!
Shutting down schools, public places, mass gatherings (sports, concerts, religious programs, etc) and workplaces are vital to implementing social distancing. Keeping these public spaces open for use increases the likelihood of spread because these facilities were designed to keep people together. At this time we need to physically maintain a safe physical distance of at least 6 feet from other people in unavoidable public interactions. We can still say hello with a wave, a sign of peace, a thumb up, etc. We can show respect by bowing, a salute, a “fist up” etc. Smiling at a distance, blowing a kiss from afar or shouting out at a distance is still allowed. We can remain emotionally connected while we are maintaining social distance.
Sincere regards to those of us who can’t practice social distance because of our profession; our calling.
Our doctors, nurses, and other health professionals have had to face coronavirus headlong! They have succeeded in China. We will all succeed eventually!! Many have paid the ultimate price. May their souls rest in peace. Amen.
For the rest of us; Enjoy your stay at home!!
Please stay safe; Practice social distancing!!!