Ways of Applying the Physical Distancing Rule During this Pandemic

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As humans and as Africans, we have been used to having close contact with our friends, families, professional colleagues, church members, social group members, and clients. We inspect everything closely before we make decisions or give our approvals. We feel things with our hands to confirm their Genuity before we purchase them. We taste things with our mouth to ascertain how good they are before we hold a claim to it. We pledge our loyalty by attending functions organized by our mentors and helpers. But all of these have changed with the outbreak of this pandemic. Many, have not yet adjusted to the new ways of doing things and still consider it disrespectful partly because they still doubting Thomases, or they have not seen any firsthand case infected by the coronavirus. In all of this, the need for physical distancing is what is advocated all over the world and cannot be overemphasized at this point in time.

Physical distancing simply means avoiding close contact with people. In Ibo, it is referred to as “inye oghere,” the Yorubas call it “fifunni ni aye ni akojopo,” and the Hausas call it “nissan ta jamaa.” This is one way of staying safe during this pandemic period because, everyone should be considered as a possible suspect and in the event, anyone close to them is identified, there would be palpable fear that they might have also been infected except proven otherwise by the appropriate and authorized diagnostic tests. It is, therefore, important that we reduce our physical contacts as far as possible to reduce the anxiety that comes with this suspicion.

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 There are simple rules we can employ in doing this, and they include; Putting tags on the gates of our houses and offices stating that “visitors are not allowed.”Developing a very secure online group chat platform for family members, church members, professional colleagues, social groups, and neighbors. Placing calls to our friends and loved ones on things we intend to do or not to do at the time. Sending voice notes/messages to friends and family members to know how they are doing. Engaging in online calls, video calls and video interviews with persons we feel it’s absolutely necessary we must see. Limit your access to any household pet at this time because we have seen cases where pets like dogs and cats get infected with the virus. Equally important, is the need for parents to protect their kids by limiting the need for baby-sitting by others at this time. This is because once a child gets infected with the virus it spreads to all members of the family who come in contact with that child. For some people on essential services, they could also make use of intercoms or Closed User Group (CUG) phone services, so they can easily communicate with their clients and colleagues at work without necessarily having much physical contacts, and long waiting time. These devices will also be cleaned at intervals with the appropriate disinfectants. Ideally sharing of toothbrush is not healthy and this should be prohibited even among family members at this time because the virus stays in the saliva. Also sharing towels should also be avoided to limit the spread. If you can, minimize your visits to the market routinely by getting things in bulk. Communicate more often with your Pharmacists and Physicians on health tips by having their phone numbers handy, so they can advice you appropriately. For lovers of exercises, designate a room or
a section of your houses where you can easily do these exercises, and limit contact with others. Emphasis should not only be on using nose masks but also on wearing protective glasses because some respiratory droplets from an infected individual could also get into your eyes.

Akinmutola Abayomi is a clinical pharmacist, a social commentator and a content creator based in Nigeria.

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