Why Social Distancing Matters: This is How COVID-19 Virus Travels

Why Social Distancing Matters: This is How COVID-19 Virus Travels

4 min read
Why Social Distancing Matters: This is How COVID-19 Virus Travels

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As we inch closer to May 3, and the centre and state governments contemplate how to open up the country, now’s a good time to understand why the new normal may include social distancing, wearing a protective mask and frequent hand washing, even if we don’t remain in a continued lockdown.

Key to understanding this is to know how far a COVID-19 virus can travel, if you are infected and when you cough, sneeze or even just talk.

How far can the COVID-19 travel?

COVID-19, like the regular flu, is transmitted when a healthy person comes in contact with an infected person. An infected person can pass the virus through droplets that are produced when one coughs, sneezes or even talks.

How is an infection transmitted 

When we cough or sneeze, we produce droplets of different sizes. The larger ones usually fall to the ground, closest surface or break into a smaller droplets. Since the larger droplets are heavier, they don’t travel as far as the smaller droplets. A 6 ft distance is considered good enough to avoid these.

What happens when you cough or sneeze

The smaller droplets also known as aerosols, unlike the heavier droplets, can remain suspended in air for as long as 30 minutes. They can also travel farther than the bigger droplets.

How far can smaller droplets travel

It’s the reason why scientists and doctors have been recommending social distancing. The farther away you are from an infected person, the less likely you are to get infected. As the droplets travel, they get diluted. While a 6 feet distance is minimum that experts recommend, we maintain, it is not necessarily always effective.

How far particles from cough and sneeze travel

It’s not just sneezing and coughing, but even droplets that come out of your mouth when you speak, can transmit the infection. This is especially problematic if a person is infected and asymptomatic. According to scientists, an infected person, in a poorly ventilated room can produce as many viral droplets as a cough can.

So, while social distancing is important, that alone is not the most effective protection against COVID-19.

An infected person can spread infection when talking also

To increase the chances of fighting COVID-19, even if and when the lockdown is eased is to follow these rules together - maintain social distancing, wear a protective mask and wash your hands frequently.

The Protective Triad 

Wearing a face mask, even a DIY one, helps. They can prevent large droplets from landing on the nose and mouth. It also stops you from touching your face. If you are infected, chances of you passing on the infection reduces. But masks alone are not the answer, because it doesn’t stop you inhaling droplets.

Face masks help disrupt the trajectory of viral droplets

Wash your hands as often as possible, because the virus spreads if you touch an infected surface, from counters to phones and tabs, and then your face. Remember the larger droplets, that often settle on nearby surfaces? Wash your hands frequently to reduce the transmission of virus.

Wash your hands to reduce the transmission of virus 

And finally, follow social distancing norms, along with wearing masks and washing hands. 6 feet is an ideal distance to maintain, especially when in a public place. It protects you from getting infected, and if you are already COVID-19 positive, you can keep others safe, by maintaining distance.

Follow social distancing norms 

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

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