Here’s Why You Need to Practice Social Distancing Like the World Depends on it!
By Sairam Hussain Miran 24 Mar, 20
On 27th February, when the number of Coronavirus infections in Italy was just about 400, the country’s Democratic Party leader posted a video of him clinking glasses and urging people “not to change our habits.” This may have seemed like a rather courageous political statement in real-time, but in retrospect, it screams of action only the inherently ignorant could take. Today, Italy has become the new epicenter of the pandemic, with over 63,000 cases and 6000 deaths in a period of fewer than two weeks.
As of this moment, Pakistan is following the same trajectory-- perhaps an even worse one --as Italy and the USA; both countries are examples of places where the pandemic could have been controlled in its early stages, but failure to do so led to deaths that could have been avoided. Pakistan may find itself in a similar fate if its citizens do not act more responsibly, and let it be reiterated that Pakistan has nowhere near as effective of a healthcare system as any of the countries mentioned. If those western healthcare systems failed, there remains no doubt that Pakistan will have a much harder time coping with the pandemic if Pakistanis continue to avoid social distancing.
Therefore, now more than ever, there is an immediate need to ‘flatten the curve’, which means slowing down the rate of infections over time so that the infections remain within healthcare capacity. If a large number of cases arise at the same time, the healthcare system is bound to collapse.
‘Why do we make up for the Government’s failures?’
Contrary to popular belief, the government is perhaps only partially to blame for this failure because the precautions around this virus are rather simple: wash your hands, do not touch your face, maintain hygiene, practice social distancing and stay indoors. All of these are directions that can only be suggested by the government but have to be enforced by the general public themselves. The public, failing to follow instructions, has caused the government to enforce them by imposing a lockdown. Yet, Pakistanis, in particular, seem to be having a hard time practicing social distancing, which is why the story of ‘patient 31’ in South Korea must be brought to light.
The situation in Korea was comparatively mild in mid-February, with a handful of cases at hand due to effective measures by the government taken early on. However, the nation saw a sudden spike in cases with numbers jumping into thousands. Not because of air travel or an influx of cases, but because of one woman, a ‘super-spreader.’ The woman recently returned from an international trip and saw mild symptoms of the virus, hence doctors wished to test her. In a perfect example of what not to do in such a situation, she refused to get tested, attended two church gatherings on two Sundays apart, and also attended a rather glamorous buffet dinner. After this, she tested positive. She had been a carrier all along. Today, the woman is alone responsible for over a staggering 60% of all cases in South Korea. The country’s total count is now at over 9000 infections.
What You Need to Do
The general precautions for avoiding COVID-19 are rather widespread now, but the only precaution that people are having a hard time with is social distancing. To our readers, perhaps the only lesson to be learned from patient 31 is that social distancing is simply not about you. It is about the hundreds you will infect, and some of them may not be as lucky as you to survive. The super spreader in Korea also firmly believed she did not have the virus, and you may believe it as an excuse to continue social interaction. Why take that chance for a few minutes of euphoria?
The world has arguably come to a halt because of this virus, and it is up to you how you spend this time in quarantine; you could either complain, resort to old habits, become disoriented, or you can come out of this pandemic as a better version of yourself. This is perhaps the largest window of free time that has become available to any of us for a very long time, so read that book, finish that video game you bought from Gamelist Store, dig out that old instrument, and spend time with your loved ones –at home!
Our destiny is determined by the choices we make at any moment in time. Choose now, choose well.