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What is social distancing and why is it so important right now?

Young woman waving to elderly relatives, keeping to social distancing rules.

Social distancing is extremely important as it is one of the main ways to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and is now mandated and enforceable by the federal government.

By ensuring less contact between yourself and other people, you can help minimise risks to not only yourself but people who might be more vulnerable to the virus.

A primary cause of COVID-19 spreading is contact with a person while they are infectious, including  in the 24-48 hours before their symptoms first appear;

Other opportunities for infection include:

  • contact with a person with a confirmed infection who sneezes or coughs
  • touching objects or surfaces (for example, a door handle) that have been contaminated from a cough or sneeze from an infected person, and then touching your face

So, if you stay home, only go out for essential services, and create as much space between yourself and those around you when you are out. By doing this you’re making it that much harder for the virus to spread, and you’re also minimising the risk for yourself and others.

 

Social distancing at home

Practise good hygiene habits at all times. You can reduce the spread of germs by ensuring proper cough and sneezing habits.

Regularly disinfect surfaces that are in frequent contact with people, such as tables, kitchen benches and door handles. You can also increase ventilation in your home by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning

It goes without saying, but if you have a child or children who are sick, do not send them to school or childcare.

If you have someone at home who is sick, care for them in a single room and keep the number of carers to a minimum. If possible, both the carers and the sick person should wear a surgical mask when in the same room.

Ideally, the door to this room would be closed at all times, with an open window to provide ventilation and fresh air.

 

Social distancing at work

While a lot of people in recent times have taken up working from home as a viable option, there are still a number of occupations that require an on-site presence.

To help reduce the spread of infection at work it’s imperative to stay at home if you’re sick. Similarly to practising social distancing at home, it’s important to stop shaking hands too.

Where possible, defer large meetings of staff and hold as many meetings as possible via video or phone conferencing options.

Promote good hygiene and ensure all high-touch surfaces are regularly wiped down with sanitiser.

 

Public social distancing

New rules now in effect mean that public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. Check State and Territory websites for further enforcement information.

If you are out and about it’s important to sanitise your hands wherever possible, including entering and leaving buildings.

If you can, avoid crowds, especially peak hour periods on public transport and try to avoid handling cash – use tap-and-go EFTPOS facilities where possible.

It’s really important that you limit contact with others so if at all possible, do most of your shopping online and visit shops only if absolutely necessary.

For more information about public gatherings, use the government’s official information guide at www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources

 

For more information, please use these government resources:

 

Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.

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