Social Distancing – Will it flatten the ‘curve’?

The peculiar advantage of living in the modern 2020’s is that though our vision may not be 20/20, and we cannot even predict what can happen or will happen on the next day, we can definitely hope to have hindsight at some time in the future. The power of information available instantly for consumption by the educated illiterates and the uneducated literates is unfolding on a daily basis.

An interesting acronym , apt in these turbulent times, when a pandemic has just been declared, is “IDIOT” – Internet derived Information Obstructing Treatment – more conventionally referring to those patients who rely on Google for primary management of whatever ails them , with poor doctors who wasted their time going to Med School coming in a poor second. There should be an equivalent term for the uncontrollable outbreak of Public Health ‘experts’ that this ongoing coronavirus pandemic has unleashed on an unsuspecting populace. Everyone is now an expert, after a quick skim through a plethora of WhatsApp forwards of dubious provenance , prefaced with the standard non disclaimer “forwarded as received”. Pray , why forward if you dont stand by what you send? Everyone and their Uncle Charitraheen is an expert today.

Anyway , this blog post is not to rant and rave at the inadequacies of society in the times of coronavirus. This is a time to act and the time to act is now. It is rather easy to get distracted when writing abstractly.

For those of us who were waiting for the summers to come, to deal a blow to transmission

I will commence by quickly clarifying that a pandemic when declared by the World Health Organization , is done with due deliberation and is only done when certain predefined criteria are fulfilled. It is based not on the quantum of cases , rather , it is based on the actual extent of spread and the challenge it poses to healthcare systems and populations across the globe. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is here , no escaping this. I will not conjecture on the future of this ongoing pandemic, nor will I hold forth on what is an epidemic curve. Google provides easy answers to those with limited understanding, like mine. I will point you to this interesting article on this curve

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
Come let me bathe you?!
There was a front page photo in a leading newspaper showing a man being sprayed on his clothes by a security guard! Dont indulge in practices not scientifically valid!

The Director General of the WHO has stated unequivocally that the global community needs to focus on words that matter much more, and that are much more actionable. Prevention. Preparedness. Public health. Political leadership.And most of all, People.

To reiterate, quarantines and personal hygiene work to slow an epidemic by limiting the ability of infectious people to spread the virus to others. Quarantines are effective because they limit the number of people exposed to a disease.

Individually adopted Social Distancing is the only tactic available for us to prevent transmission of Coronavirus

For myself, as a responsible citizen, I have decided to take these measures with immediate effect :

1. I will work from home to the extent feasible, and will not travel in public transport, unless absolutely essential. I will request my employer to permit “work from home” till required by circumstances.

2. I will not attend community or social events or gatherings.

3. I will not go to cinemas or clubs or restaurants. I will try not to order takeaways as it will mean going to a restaurant. I will restrict ordering home delivery of food.

4. I will stop going to the gym / swimming pool.

5. I will greet people without physical contact by doing a simple ‘Namaste’

6. I will consciously avoid touching my face, nose and eyes through the day.

7. I will wash my hands with soap for 20 seconds as often as needed and definitely after using the toilet, coming home from outdoors and before cooking or eating.

8. I will use my fist or knuckles to touch common surfaces in public areas such as lift buttons, door handles etc.

9. I will not go outdoors except for unavoidable domestic work such as shopping for provisions.

10. I will seek information from authenticated and verified sources only, and will not participate in rumour mongering.

11. I will spread correct messages of prevention to my family, friends and relatives.

12. I will support the Govt and other members of civic society in controlling the transmission of infection.

I strongly recommend that each one of us, adult or child, male or female, adopt a similar declaration of intent and undertake whatever measures we can to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our society, healthy and well.

At present (16 Mar 2020) neither is there a vaccine, nor is there a standardized treatment even though trials are going on everywhere.
DO NOT self medicate. Do not insist on antibiotic prescriptions for viral illnesses as an outpatient.

The Govt of India has issued an advisory on 16 Mar 2020, recommending stringent social distancing measures. We all , as responsible citizens need to realise the importance of this. If we dont participate in ensuring the health security of our nation, we as a society are surely going to be over our heads !

Please send me any issues you have a felt need to clarify or seek more information on. I am compiling a list of FAQs .


Published by Delta Zulu Consultancy

I am a Public Health Specialist with a passion for sustainable promotion of human co-existence with the environment! My areas of interest and expertise are Health Risk Communication and Community Engagement, Food Safety, Environmental Medicine and Mass Gathering Medicine. I believe in leveraging the power of technology to capture the imagination of people to inspire them to achieve their health potential, in a sustainable manner. I aspire to empower my partners and motivate stake holders to consistently seek 'work around' solutions, while hoping to achieve an utopian ideal balance.

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