The title of this editorial comes from this particular tweet on the official Twitter page of the League of India:

The prime minister, in a televised address to the nation, announced a ‘Janata Curfew’ from 7 am to 9 pm Sunday, 22 March, to stop the spread of coronavirus that has already claimed four lives in the country and infected at least 169 others.

“Under ‘Janata Curfew’ no one will go out of their houses. It will also prepare us for the forthcoming days,” said PM Modi, hinting that such isolation drives could be essential in future to stop the spread of COVID19.

The PM’s appeal to the nation follows a global trajectory wherein, to stop the spread of coronavirus, health officials have instructed the public to practice social distancing — staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from touching one another.

Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people.

Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.

Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person to person through:

  • direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
  • touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

It is worth reminding ourselves again that COVID-19 is very contagious (an infected person will infect 2 to 2.5 others on average, versus about 1.3 others with the flu), and there is evidence that people who have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all are helping spread the disease.

That makes it more difficult to contain and is partly why we are taking such aggressive social isolation tactics: We cannot always be sure who has the virus, and we don’t want to risk it being passed along unwittingly to a more vulnerable person.

Since emerging from Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the coronavirus has spread to more than 150 countries.

To date, it has infected over 221,000 people globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with 8,966 deaths.

As there is no vaccine available for the coronavirus at present and testing remains relatively limited in many countries, the WHO has stressed the need for citizens to take collective action. Collective action includes ‘social distancing’.

At the base of those ‘collective actions’ lies the first target for health administrations globally viz., to ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread.

The ‘curve’ refers to the projected number of new cases over a period of time.

In contrast to a steep rise of coronavirus infections, a more gradual uptick of cases will see the same number of people get infected, but without overburdening the healthcare system at any one time.

The idea of flattening the curve is to stagger the number of new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care.

That is all that the government is asking from us. It is merely asking us to sit at home and be with our loved ones. Not too much, right? So, let’s not be ‘Covidiots’.



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