Social Distancing Physical Distancing

It’s not social distancing, but should be physical distancing

M K Tayal: As the Home Ministry eases lockdown conditions, it is harping on enforcing strict ‘Social distancing’ rules on the beleaguered populace. This term of social distancing is in fact wrong and should be replaced by ‘physical distancing’. The Ministry has been ordering states and UT to ensure that strict ‘social distancing’ norms are enforced. This according to the MHA is maintaining minimum “six feet distance (do gaz doori)” at shops and at public places between any two people. The term should be “physical distancing” and not social distancing. We should keep not keep social distancing, but rather maintain physical distance. “We should maintain our social closeness while keeping physical distance. The correct term should be physical distancing and not social distancing,” says English language expert Charmaine Vida.

We are social beings. We need to be socially close with each other and not maintain social distance from each other as the term implies, she adds. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its ‘Advisory on Social Distancing Measure in view of spread of COVID-19 disease’ regarding social distancing says, “Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease.” Verbosity that can be reduced to just maintaining physical distance of 1 meter.

Infact the World Health Organization, also says “Physical distancing means being physically apart”. While the MHA wants you to keep two meters apart, the WHO recommends keeping at least 1-metre distance from others.
“This is a general measure that everyone should take even if they are well with no known exposure to COVID-19,” the WHO says. Merriam Webster dictionary says physical and social distancing as “the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance (such as six feet or more) from other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.”But factually it is not social distancing but physical distancing that is being referred. “The main thing that we can all do, is what is called social distancing.

I like to use the phrase ‘physical distancing,’ Adam Rosh on Webster.“The WHO added that they were now using the term “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” to describe the importance of maintaining space between people in order to avoid the spread of the virus,” writes Manon Dark. Let us start making the fine distinction. Maintain physical distance in the Covid times but narrow the social distance with each, smile and communicate with each other and become close. A petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court regarding use of the term social distancing.

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