This update is by Karen Robinson, our Clinical Director.
Social distancing – we have been asked to practise this, and it is likely that this behaviour will be needed for the rest of the year. What???
Why does it cause that reaction in us? It is because humans are social creatures, and socialising with people is needed for our mental health and wellbeing.
“Social distancing is a set of nonpharmaceutical infection control actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease.”
So could we look at this another way?
Now I have to be honest and say that I hadn’t considered this until I heard it whilst listening to an article which suggested that PHYSICAL distancing is what is actually being asked of us, and I think this is a great descriptive term for what we need to do and this may help us to settle and calm down.
We know that Covid-19 is spread by droplets from coughing and sneezing. When we cough and sneeze we send small droplets into the air, which can contain the virus, and they remain there gradually falling towards the earth, landing on what ever surface they eventually come into contact with. It is believed that they can then survive on that surface for up to 72 hours.
Now coughing and sneezing are common, and an essential part of how the body looks after itself.
Coughs are a repetitive reflex that helps clear your lungs and bronchial tubes of irritants, foreign particle and bugs. A droplet from a cough can travel at up to 50mph.
Sneezing is activated when the lining of the nose is irritated. This is an involuntary expulsion of air through the mouth and/or nose which helps clear out the nasal cavity of whatever irritated it. A sneeze droplet can travel up to 100mph.
So now it is starting to make sense. We can’t help coughing and sneezing, since it is part of the body’s way of taking care of itself.
Many of us do not habitually cover our nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, or if we do we use our hands which we then don’t wash. If we are standing close to someone who is not covering their mouth, then those droplets will land on our body, clothing and surfaces or we can breathe them in. We then run the risk of touching our clothes or face, and then touching our face or mouth which then allows the virus to enter our body. Because of the speed of coughing and sneezing, those particles can travel a considerable distance, which is why we are being asked to stay at least 2 metres away from people.
So therefore we need to minimise contact and exposure. Now let’s face it, this is good advice for any virus or bacterium that are existing, and will continue to exist, and are spread by droplet form – common cold, influenza, mumps, rubella and pneumonia. Did we forget “coughs and sneezes spread diseases?”
At this time with Covid-19, we are being asked to do this to slow the spread of the virus so that our health service can cope. It applies to all of us.