The COVID pandemic affects us all in different ways, and the word “social distancing” has now become a common phrase when it comes to reducing the spread of the disease. But what is social distancing based on, and what does the research say about it? Today we will look at what social distancing means and how you can avoid infecting your loved ones.

What does social distancing mean?

In modern history, all outbreaks of disease in the world have been fought in part by means of social distancing. The term has become increasingly well-known during the COVID pandemic as the disease spreads very quickly between people. Social distancing is implemented when contagion can occur between people and is usually defined as a distance of 1-2 metres.

The 1-2 metre rule exists because close contact with people increases the risk of droplet infection.

What is droplet infection?

Droplet infection is something that comes through “droplets” from person to person. Most often it happens through coughing or sneezing, but it can also happen just by talking to each other. Unfortunately, COVID is spread through droplets, which is why it is important to keep a social distance and wear a mouthguard when you are around people.

What does the research say about social distancing?

Research has shown during previous pandemics that social distancing is an important part of fighting viral disease outbreaks. But while there is a good understanding of how diseases are spread, there are a lot of different factors at play depending on where it is, and what disease it is.

Spanish flu – the deadliest pandemic in modern history

In 1918, the so-called “Spanish flu” ravaged the globe. The disease spread rapidly with a high risk of serious harm or death. 50 million people lost their lives to the Spanish flu, and the world has never been the same again.

Scientists are studying this pandemic to pinpoint exactly what was effective in stopping the spread of the disease. Social distancing is often hailed as the key to keeping an outbreak from getting worse.

Many cities implemented social distancing as a way to flatten the curve, and it had very good results. On the other hand, many cities did NOT implement social distancing, and now it has been possible to study the differences in the infection, between those that did and those that did not.

These studies have been extremely helpful in the COVID pandemic, as they have been able to draw on lessons from the past at an early stage, making the spread of the disease less severe than it could have been.

How you can protect your loved ones

Social distancing is often misinterpreted as a form of isolation. Many people believe that they have to stay away from other people by avoiding all forms of contact.

The right way to keep social distancing within your family or with your friends is not to isolate yourself. The important thing is to remember to keep your distance and avoid physical contact whenever possible.

With social distancing you should think like this:

  • Follow instructions from authorities
  • Avoid unnecessary travel/activities
  • Work from home if possible
  • Avoid public transport
  • Keep your distance to other people
  • Avoid getting close to people at risk (elderly or sick)
  • Wash your hands often, especially when you get home

In conclusion, simply avoid exposing yourself and your family to an increased risk of infection.

How to reduce the risk for your family:

  • Keep track of how much you need to shop to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store
  • Keep in touch with your relatives and family by phone or video chat
  • Do not let the pandemic affect your child’s mental health
  • Exercising at home is an important part of staying healthy

It is important that you also put some extra care in your children. Being social is a big part of growing up, and when distance and isolation become the focus, it can breed mental illness in the young ones.

Social distancing does not mean you should stop being social.

Talk often with your children and your partner, put extra emphasis on being social with your family and relatives. Feeling lonely affects us all differently, but we can all make a difference.