Social distancing appears to have slowed coronavirus spread, says study

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 31, 2020, 04.19 PM(IST) Edited By: Sonal Gera

Coronavirus Photograph:( AFP )

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The WHO has, however, started using the phrase "physical distancing" instead of "social distancing" as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.

Social distancing appears to have been helping slow the spread of coronavirus in the parts of the world, where the guidelines have been seriously implemented. 

Since coronavirus is spread mainly through respiratory droplets, especially when people cough or sneeze, maintaining a safe distance is recommended to decrease transmission.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends being more than one metre (three feet) away from the nearest person.

The Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) looked at the collected health data in the coronavirus hotspot of Washington state, as well as a few other areas, to calculate the impact of the lockdown — imposed to practise social distancing.

In a small area of US alone, public health data, including positive and negative tests and overall mortality, appeared to show that "the epidemic has slowed”. The disease's reproductive number -- the amount of people a single patient will infect on average -- dropped by nearly half, from 2.7 at the end of February to 1.4 by March 18, it calculated.

In addition, according to a new study by experts at Imperial College London released on Monday, interventions across all 11 countries of European Union would have averted 59,000 deaths up to 31 March [95% credible interval 21,000-120,000].

The countries assessed in the report were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

“It is therefore critical that the current interventions remain in place and trends in cases and deaths are closely monitored in the coming days and weeks to provide reassurance that transmission of SARS-Cov-2 is slowing,” the study added.

The WHO has, however, started using the phrase "physical distancing" instead of "social distancing" as a way to prevent the spread of the virus. 

"We're changing to say physical distance and that's on purpose because we want people to still remain connected," WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said.