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Explained: What government advises for social distancing

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Union Health Ministry has released a number of advisories, telling people ways in which they can protect themselves from the infection.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 19, 2020 10:28:55 pm
Explained: What government advises for social distancing A man wearing a protective mask walks past a bus stop displaying preventive measures against the coronavirus in Mumbai, March 18, 2020. (Reuters Photo: Francis Mascarenhas)

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Union Health Ministry has released a number of advisories, telling people ways in which they can protect themselves from the infection.

One advisory is on social distancing. It is a prevention-and-control intervention against non-pharmaceutical infection and aims to decrease or prevent contact between those who are infected and those who are not, in order to slow down or stop the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. “This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease,” the ministry has said.

The ministry has proposed the following interventions:

1. Closure of all educational establishments (schools, universities etc), gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres. Students should be advised to stay at home. Online education to be promoted.

2. Possibility of postponing exams may be explored. Ongoing exams to be conducted only after ensuring physical distance of one meter amongst students.

3. Encourage private sector organizations/employers to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible.

4. Meetings, as far as feasible, shall be done through video conferences. Minimize or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary.

5. Restaurants should ensure handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. Ensure physical distancing (minimum 1metre) between tables; encourage open-air seating where practical with adequate distancing.

6. Keep already planned weddings to a limited gathering, postpone all non-essential social and cultural gatherings.

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7. Local authorities should hold dialogue with organizers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings and they may be advised to postpone such events.

8. Local authorities should hold a dialogue with opinion leaders and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and should ensure no overcrowding/at least one metre distance between people.

9. Local authorities should meet 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.

10. All commercial activities must keep a distance of one meter between customers. Measures to reduce peak hour crowding in markets.

11. Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains and aeroplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces.

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12. Hospitals should follow necessary protocol related with COVID-19 management as prescribed and restrict family/friends/children visiting patients in hospitals.

13. Hygiene and physical distancing has to be maintained. Shaking hands and hugging as a matter of greeting to be avoided.

14. Special protective measures for delivery men/ women working in online ordering services.

15. Keep communities informed consistently and constantly.

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