Stay at home as much as you can. This is the most important piece of advice being reiterated by health officials across the world in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Turkish officials have also echoed the same message, ordering all cafes, theaters, gyms and other similar social spaces to be closed beginning Tuesday.
On social media, it's hard to miss all the diagrams, infographics and videos showing how important social distancing is – the less contact we have with each other, the less the risk of contracting the virus.
While this certainly means large gatherings will have to be put on hold, close personal contact in smaller groups can also become a problem.
Even if you think you're healthy and that the virus would not be life-threatening for you, social distancing is as much about protecting yourself as it is about protecting other more vulnerable people who might get the virus from you, namely the elderly, sufferers of chronic conditions, the immunosuppressed, like cancer patients, and pregnant women.
But what does social distancing mean in practice? Can you still go for walks and meet other people? Here's what medical experts advise when it comes to social distancing and doing it properly.
Avoid close contact
If you can, arrange with your employer to work from home. If complete isolation at home is not an option, there are still ways to reduce the risk by keeping your contact to a minimum. Get-togethers with friends and relatives should be canceled, while parties and weddings should be postponed. So for now, your Saturday night outings and regular Sunday brunches will have to be put on hold. Don't forget that this isn't forever but it's best to postpone. Your own car and bicycle are also now a safer means of transport than bus and train.
Meet the same people
You can not be expected to avoid all human contact. Whether for professional or private reasons, you will likely have to see other people from time to time. And yet in order to prevent a rapid spread of the virus, health experts say you should limit your contact to the same few relatives or friends and avoid encounters with new people. This also makes it easier for health officials to find out who might be impacted in the event of an infection.
Keep your distance
When you do meet other people, keep a distance of at least 1 meter, preferably 2, and refrain from shaking hands and hugging anyone – so forget about the cheek-kiss, the Turkish way of greeting. Of course, the following always applies: wash your hands regularly and thoroughly!
Time your trips outside
If you can, try to avoid shopping during rush hour, and go when supermarkets and pharmacies are likely to be empty. Even if restaurants and cafes remain open in your area, health officials generally advise against visiting them. The same goes for all public places with crowds of people, from playgrounds to shopping centers.
Help those at risk
Avoiding human contact applies first and foremost to vulnerable people, meaning the elderly and the chronically ill. At the same time, they are now the ones most restricted in their freedom of movement. Anyone who can should offer help, for example, by doing shopping and errands. This can be organized by mobile phone and door-to-door delivery, ideally without personal contact.
Get fresh air
If you feel trapped inside four walls, don't fret and take a walk outside, in the open, fresh air. After all, sunlight and oxygen are still important. Both physical and mental health will help you stay ready to combat potential infection. Doctors do not advise against going for a walk but caution that joint walks may be risky. The key point is to maintain a distance.
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