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Social Distancing: What Does It Actually Mean?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now announced stricter social distancing measures and has put the country in lockdown. There will be no school, college or Uni, no cafes, no social gatherings. Most people will have to work from home and everything we once knew has changed in just a few days.

I ddarllen yr erthygl hon yn Gymraeg, clicia yma

Don’t think of this as an early Easter holiday, it is not a time to hang out with friends. There is a reason that these measures have been put in place and we’re being asked to socially distance ourselves.

Flattening the curve image for social distancing article

Flattening the curve

You might have heard the phrase ‘flattening the curve’ lots, it’s being used everywhere! What it means is slowing down the rate that people get ill so that our health services can cope.

If we practice social distancing people won’t all get sick at the same time. The same amount of people might get sick but this will happen over a longer period of time. You might think it’s better to get this over and done with and get on with our normal life as quickly as possible, but this would be really dangerous.

Our hospitals only have a limited number of beds, doctors, nurses and respirators (the machines people who are really ill with Covid-19 need to help them breathe). If everybody gets ill at the same time it means that the health service isn’t able to help them all. This means lots of people will not get the treatment that they need. If we practice social distancing and ‘flatten the curve’ it will spread out how many people are ill at one time meaning that the health service is able to cope better and help more people.

Keep 2m apart for social distancing article

What are the stricter measures and why?

The government tried to ask people to socially distance but unfortunately lots of people decided not to listen. This meant that tougher measures had to be put in place. The new rules now means that people will only be allowed out to do an essential shop, for medical needs and travelling for work. Your will also be allowed to go out for one form of exercise a day close to home, on your own or with the people you live with.

Police have been given new powers to fine people if they see any gatherings of more than two people in public (unless you are out exercising with those that you live with). All shops that do not sell necessities have to close. Everyone who can work from home needs to do so.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, declared on 23rd March:

“I urge you at this moment of National Emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.”

“I’m young and fit, I won’t get sick!”

You might not get ill if you catch the virus, but what if someone else does because you’ve passed it on to them? How would you feel then?

It’s not about how it will affect you but the fact that you can spread it to other people; people who may have weaker immune systems and who can become really ill and perhaps die. Social distancing is about stopping the spread, and that means that each and every one of us has a role to play in this. To flatten the curve we all have to practice social distancing.

video call for social distancing article

How to practice social distancing

You should only have contact with the people that live in your house. Don’t invite anyone over. You can still be social through email, text, calls and video calls.

If you do go out shopping or for exercise then keep at least 2m (6.5ft) away from other people at all times.

Chat with your family about this, and how you’re going to cope. Everyone is sure to have a bad day at some point. Decide how you will deal with this before it happens. Accept that this is going to be difficult. Moods will change and we all need to try and be a little more patient and understanding. Give each other space rather than let it turn into an argument. Try to be supportive of one another.

Try to vary what you’re doing so you don’t get bored. Playing on your computer or watching TV all day will soon get boring and will make things harder. Find educational apps that will help and follow the work that your teacher will have set you. If you’re not in education, find things that you can do at home, like DIY, exercise, writing, finding a new hobby you can do at home etc.

If you have a serious health condition then the NHS are advising you not to go out for at least 12 weeks. Try and keep away from other people. Take a look at this BBC article about it.

If you do go out for any of the allowed activities try as best as you can not to touch things that other people have touched. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Use antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer if you have some. Wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you are able to.

Here’s the official guide given by Public Health Wales.

What if you or someone in your family is showing symptoms?

The NHS advises anyone that develops a new continuous cough or temperature to self-isolate for 7 days (if living on your own). If you live with someone, then everyone has to self isolate for 14 days. Here’s the official guidance from Public Health Wales about self-isolating. Try to get someone else to do your shopping for you, maybe paying through bank transfer and ask them to leave the stuff outside your door. There are lots of schemes in villages and towns that local volunteers have set up to help people that are self-isolating, search for local groups on Facebook.

Do not call your doctor or 111 if you think you have the virus. Self isolate. If you feel you can’t cope or if your condition gets worse or you’re not getting better after 7 days then use NHS 111 online, or if you don’t have internet call 111. You should only call 999 in an emergency.

Need to talk to someone?

If you’re worried about anything and want to talk things through with someone, then you can always contact the Meic helpline. Whether it’s about the coronavirus, or anything else that’s worrying you, our advisors are trained to help children and young people in Wales, and they can help you get the help that you need.