New Delhi: Coronavirus in India has claimed three lives out of the 126 reported cases. The most worrisome quality of the COVID-19 is its nature of transmission and to lower the risk of community transmission, experts, as well as government, have been advising people to practice ‘social distancing’. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an advisory with an aim to explain to people what social distancing means. The advisory also proposes other interventions that is deemed necessary by experts to help control the spread of coronavirus.
Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention to avoid or decrease contact between those who are infected and those who are not. This helps in stopping or slowing down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease, explains the advisory.
In the other proposed interventions, MOHFW directed that all educational establishments schools, universities, as well as gyms, museums, cultural and social centers, swimming pools and theatres, remain shut. Students are advised to stay at home and turn to online education. Furthermore, the government has advised education institutes to ‘explore the possibility’ of postponing any upcoming exams.
Ongoing exams to be conducted only after ensuring physical distance of one meter amongst students, it further states.
On the other hand, private sector organisations and employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible. On the other hand, it is advised to conduct meetings, as far as feasible, through video conferencing.
Minimize or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary, the advisory says.
The MOHFW also suggest restaurants to ensure proper cleanliness and disinfection.
Restaurants to ensure hand washing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. Ensure physical distancing minimum 1 metre between tables; encourage open air seating where practical with adequate distancing, it says.
When it comes to weddings, the advisory has suggested limiting the gathering in already planned weddings while it directs to postpone all non-essential social and cultural gatherings.
It also called for local authorities to have dialogues with organizers of sporting events and competitions to postpone these events. It further wants local authorities to coordinate with opinion leaders and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and ensure at least one metre distance between people.
Local authorities to have meeting with traders associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, exhibit Do’s and Don’ts and take up a communication drive in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots, railway stations, post-offices etc., where essential services are provided, it further orders.
It also suggests one metre distance for all commercial activities between customers and to introduce measures to reduce peak hour crowding in markets.
Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, Trains and airplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces, it states.
The advisory also directed hospitals to follow the necessary protocol related to COVID-19 management as prescribed and restrict family, friends, children visiting patients in hospitals.
Furthermore, it suggests people to maintain hygiene and physical distancing, to avoid shaking hands and hugging. It also suggests special protective measures for delivery men and women working in online ordering services. Lastly, it calls for keep communities informed consistently and constantly.
The advisory further says that the proposed interventions are in force till March 31, 2020, and will be reviewed as per the evolving situation.