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Despite Masks, Why is Social Distancing Important in the Fight Against COVID-19?

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

COVID-19 has been declared as a public health emergency by the WHO. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, infecting hundreds of thousands of people, and with the rising number of cases and deaths each day, we are urged to practise social distancing.

What is Social Distancing?

Social Distancing means keeping a distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. The World Health Organization recommends maintaining a distance of at least one 1-meter from others to slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission. This is a general measure that everyone should take. It is also advised to stay away from crowded places and mass gatherings.

Even with masks on, why is social distancing important in the fight against COVID-19?

o Indian Council of Medical Research states that social distancing can reduce the spread of coronavirus by as much as 62%. Social distancing would help to maximize the effect of universal mask-wearing in slowing down the growth of the epidemic. The CDC also emphasizes that a mask is not a substitute for social distancing.

o With the constant movement of people, the virus can be picked up from and/or passes onto objects and surfaces where it can persist for hours and days. Social distancing helps limit opportunities to come in contact with contaminated surfaces.

o According to research conducted by WHO, N-95 masks and other surgical masks are 99% effective and there is still a 1% chance of catching the virus.

o Cotton masks are loose fitted, and they can absorb 97% of the droplets from the air, making them the least effective in preventing COVID-19.

Learn about the different masks available in India here.

o There are many reported violations of the mask-wearing rules that can lead to the spread of the deadly virus if physical distancing is not maintained. The social distancing method is required as safety depends entirely on behavioural patterns of individuals where most of them do not abide by the rules put out in the country. You must know how to wear and remove N95 and surgical masks safely.

o If social distancing methods are ignored the effect could last on for the upcoming generations as the virus will be able to develop different strains in addition to the existing eight different strains discovered by scientists.

o Social distancing is a zero-cost method to minimize crowd interactions and prevent the spread of disease within groups of people.

Now you know why social distancing, even while wearing a mask, is so vital in the fight against the novel coronavirus. With the global cases of COVID-19 on the rise, we have to do our part to win this battle by staying home and staying safe.

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