#HLWDK Daily Health tips: Social Distancing!

Dear all,

Did you miss me? I’ve been on the move these past three days and just didn’t get around to posting. Forgive me!

Ahead of the border closures sweeping the world in the wake of Corona Virus pandemic, I’ve travelled across a couple of countries racing to attend to urgent issues and cross back over borders to get home. In these trips I have observed a couple of things:

The concept of social distancing is still not very clear. When I arrived at Lagos airport, I was on the queue for temperature screening. I gave a significant gap between the guy in front of me and myself. I figured that the guy behind me would take a cue from that and also give me some gap. But no! He walked all the way up to me and stood quite close. I had to step out from the line and stand to the side. Same thing happened as we queued up waiting for immigrations check. I kept taking one step away from this guy (another guy) and he kept moving closer. I had to tell him, ‘I’m actually trying to create some distance between us!’ That was when it sank in! Then I went to a restaurant – I wanted to get some take-away packs. The restaurant got some things right – limited entry into the restaurant (a couple of people at a time – not sure they were focused on any particular number). On the queue, same thing, people were lining up so close to each other, you would think it was pre-COVID-19 time. And then when people got into the restaurant, they threw caution to the wind, pushing and shoving people to get served.

What else did I see? On the flight, I saw a gentleman coughing into his hands and sometimes into a handkerchief. There was no effort afterwards to wash hands and/or use a hand sanitizer.

So, let’s discuss social distancing. What does this mean? It simply means putting space between people – just like I wanted to do with those gentlemen at the airport. If this is done, there is less likelihood of the virus being passed from an infected person to others who are not infected. If we all adhere to this, fewer people get sick at the same time. This gives the healthcare workers time to respond by having a manageable load of patients to attend to and also allows the health system sufficient time to make available, supplies and treatments needed to take care of patients. This will lead to the popular ‘flattening of the curve’ that I’m sure you have heard people say. Flattening the curve essentially says, ‘we know a lot of people will get sick, but they don’t have to all get sick at the same time.’ The latter situation will overwhelm the health system and we don’t want this to happen

How can we practice social distancing?

  • Avoiding gatherings where lots of people will congregate. This includes schools, places of worship, parties, bars etc
  • Working from home
  • Maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters (or 6 feet) between you and the next person on a queue. How do you know this distance – put one foot in front of the other and count out 6 steps. May not be exact science but gives you a sense

On coughing into hands, please don’t.

  • After you have blown into your tissue (tissue is better as it can be disposed of after use, as opposed to handkerchiefs which are used repeatedly in a day becoming a rich culture medium of germs which can be easily passed on), keep your hands to yourself. If people want to shake your hands, please don’t shake them.
  • Another great option is to cough into the crook of your arms.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you can…often too. Washing hands is definitely preferred to using sanitizers but where you can’t get to water immediately, a sanitizer will do.  
  • And keep your hands off your face. Make the effort to be intentional about this.

If you keep your hands off your face, even you touch some germs, you won’t pass it on to yourself. I you make a habit of washing your hands often, you increase the chances of not passing on these germs to others and also yourself.

Please stay safe, people and take this fight against COVI-19 seriously. We can win this war but you’ve got to play your part.

Sending loads of love your way…

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