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Why social distancing is necessary to fight coronavirus

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) As several states in India have started directing the closure of cinema halls, gyms, swimming pools and other recreational spots, it is important to understand that social distancing is key to fighting the spread of the coronavirus infection.

This is particularly important to ensure that those who actually need the healthcare facilities are able to use them, according to experts.

In the absence of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, infections can rise rapidly, stressing the country's healthcare infrastructure.

In his discussion with health ministers of different states, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan earlier this week stressed on the need of persuading the general public to avoid crowded gatherings as well as on following basic principles of personal hygiene and prevention.

According to a new report from Counterpoint Research, coronavirus infection spreads rapidly through a population, reaching a peak and then subsiding almost equally rapidly once there are no new people to infect.

“By locking down areas and curtailing socializing, the pool of potential virus recipients is reduced, causing the outbreak to moderate more quickly,” said the report.

“This is what happened in China. But a rapid lockdown is not what has happened in Iran, Italy and many other parts of Europe, and the United States”.

The disease has likely been in the community in these countries for several weeks before being formally identified.

Epidemiologists have termed the strategy of preventing a huge rise in coronavirus cases through protective measures “flattening the curve”.

The “flattening the curve” graphic which has now gone viral on social media was first created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and popularised by the Economist. It visually explains the importance of the protective measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Indian government has advised that people should avoid all non-essential travel abroad and refrain from travelling to countries reporting high cases and deaths as mentioned in the travel advisory issued by the government.

All incoming international passengers returning to India should self-monitor their health and follow the required Do's and Don'ts as detailed by the government.

To quarantine itself India has already cancelled all existing visas – except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas – till April 15.

“What we suggest is that since this is a respiratory virus we should know cough etiquette and ensure hand hygiene. When we cough droplets fall and then if we touch surfaces which are infected it causes the virus to enter our body,” said Vikas Maurya, Director and Head of Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Disorders at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi.

A total of 83 persons have tested positive for coronavirus across India so far.

–IANS

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