Coronavirus | Social distancing key to containing COVID-19, say experts

IMA Resource Person on COVID-19 Dr. K.K. Aggarwal recommends a three feet distance between people.

With the World Health Organisation declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of the infection is being underscored.

IMA Resource Person on COVID-19 Dr. K.K. Aggarwal recommends a three feet distance between people. “If you look at the normal distance between two beds in a hospital ward it will be three feet. Similarly the distance between two seats in the first class on an airline is three feet. Ever wondered why? That’s the safe distance to maintain during respiratory illness. This is the distance to be maintained for anyone who has a cold, cough or sneeze, or some form of visible respiratory distress,” he says.

Patients who have these symptoms must necessarily keep at least three feet between them and others. “Not every person, only those with these symptoms,” he adds.

It is also important to follow normal Indian etiquette – the namaste- to greet others instead of handshakes.

Decontamination of surfaces frequently and maintaining hand hygiene are other measures people must keep up with.

Industrialist and Sundram Fasteners Limited chairman Suresh Krishna has called for COVID-19 to be treated as national emergency.

“One should understand that several thousands of people are already affected,” he said, adding that authorities must proactively close schools, businesses, cinema halls, concerts and public functions.

“There is no use feeling sorry later,” he stressed. He recalled how India faced an epidemic in 1918 of the Spanish Flu where several thousand people died because the country was totally unprepared.

At Sundram Fasteners offices in Chennai, hand sanitisers have been given and employees instructed not to go for lunch in groups.

“Communication is very important. Government officials in Tamil Nadu should come on television and give frequent updates in Tamil and English on what people should do, what measures the government has taken — this kind of assurance is necessary,” Mr Krishna said, lauding the Singapore model of handling the coronavirus outbreak.

Tamil Nadu Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine K. Kolandaswamy, who has been urging the public to avoid mass gatherings, said it is advisable to avoid all non-essential visits to any place.

“Do your work over the phone or video-conferencing. Do not take your children out unnecessarily. If you are sick, avoid going out,” he added.

Dr. Kolandaswamy further said: “Drop all tour plans now. It is better to avoid visiting shopping malls and theatres. We have told both malls and theatres to disinfect surfaces regularly. In fact, theatres have been told to increase the time gap between shows for cleaning,” he said.

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