So far, the novel coronavirus has infected over two million people globally, with over 165,000 deaths with Ghana recording a total of 1,042 cases and nine deaths.
The regions that have reported cases are Greater Accra, Ashanti, Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Western, Volta, Central, North East and Eastern.
President Nana Akufo-Addo on March 15, ordered the closure of all schools and universities and the suspension of all public gatherings for four weeks with a later extension as a means to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These public gatherings included; conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events, musical concerts and night clubs, and religious events such as services in churches and mosques.
As the spread of COVID-19 continues, communities are being asked to reduce close contact between people. This is called social distancing, and it's an important and effective way to stem the spread of COVID 19.
What is social distancing?
It is a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other.
It means staying home as much as possible and avoiding crowded, public places, where close contact with others is likely. This includes; shopping centres, market places, movie theaters, stadia, even large church gatherings and conferences.
Social distancing in this regard, aims at preventing people infected with COVID -19 from coming in close contact with healthy people, who have not contracted the disease in order to reduce opportunities for its transmission.
What is the science in social distancing?
The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells. Since the virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own.
The coronavirus, mostly spread by air droplets through coughing, sneezing and spitting from an infected person. The droplets from the infected person infect others directly via respiratory droplets, or may get into the eyes, nose and mouth of a healthy person by contaminated hands.
It has been established that the novel coronavirus is heavier than most viruses and cannot navigate beyond two meters (6.3 feet) while in the air and therefore will drop on surfaces. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material, where it lies.
This is why the President said the battle lies between your compound and your doorpost because the virus moves when you move. So, stay home, don't move so that the virus does not move.
Importance of social distancing
Social distancing is an essential way to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and is important that you follow the social distancing recommendations in your community, whether you are in one of the high-risk groups or not.
With more and more schools closing and people working from home, it may be tempting to get kids together for sleepovers, or to think that gatherings of more than 10 people are safe, but social distancing only works if all participate in slowing down or preventing the spread of the virus.
This is why most events and gatherings of more than 25 people have been cancelled, why restaurants and bars are closing, and why many schools have been closed down and progressed to online buying and learning.
Meanwhile, events and gatherings of less than 25 people are supposed to sit within two meters interval from each other, or maintain two meters space away from people whether in a queue at the bank or anywhere, whether lying together, sitting, standing, or playing.
Challenges of social distancing
We are struggling to know the time when the pandemic will subside with a feeling that it's almost impossible. A walk around town, especially the market places are scary because of improper adherence.
As for children and the youth, it is as if they're resistant to the COVID-19.
They have no regard for social distancing or whatsoever, throwing it to the dogs completely as they continuously play soccer on pitches, playing draft, computer games; loitering and group chatting.
Though children seem less affected by the virus than adults while some may not develop the symptoms after getting infected, they can infect others.
So, we all owe it a duty to protect those at higher risk.
Steps like social distancing may feel like an inconvenience, but it's the best way right now to protect our families, friends and neighbors who may be vulnerable. If you are concerned that someone in your family may be at higher risk, then please practise social distancing or stay home to protect them.