MOM Safe Management Measures
What Is Social Distancing?
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does the term “Safe distancing” mean?
• To start off, remember that COVID-19 Corona virus is spread through respiratory droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Hence if you are near that person, you could inhale these droplets and be infected.
• The term “Safe distancing” refers to the recommended minimal distance that people should physically stay apart from each other – at least 1 meter.
• Safe distancing measures are steps that we each take to reduce social interaction between ourselves and others. It involves each of us reducing the amount of close contact time we have with each other in order to reduce our risk of being infected
• For starters, we can ensure safe distancing if we do the following:
a) Avoid contact with people who are unwell with respiratory symptoms and fever.
b) Avoid no-essential use of public transport
c) Work from home
d) Avoid crowds
2. Does this mean that we should not leave our home?
• No it does not. You can certainly leave home for outdoor exercises or for other essential activities.
• But if we do go out, we must consciously make sure that we stay at least 1 meter away from the person nearest to us (this is about an adult’s one arm’s length)
• It must be obvious by now that safe distancing means no handshakes, no hugs and no kisses.
3. Do I need to be safe distanced from my family members and household members?
• This is a difficult question to answer. The following scenarios could clarify things a little:
o If families and household members move around as a separate unit, they can be treated as one entity (like one person) and hence do not need to practice safe distancing from each other.
o If one or more family members or household members have outside activities of their own, they should practice safe distancing from other members when they return home from their outside activities. They should even wear masks when at home. Frequent hand washing and use of sanitizers by these guys are a must.
4. How about safe distancing when we are outdoor doing our exercises?
• When exercising outdoor in parks or open spaces, we must keep much more that 1 meter from other people who are exercising. 1 or 2 meters is sufficiently safe when we are standing still; but not so when we are doing brisk walks, jogs or cycling
• People who exercise, be they walking, jogging or cycling, create a stream of turbulence behind them. This area of turbulence is called “Slip stream”. The length of this slip stream depends on the intensity of the exercise – less with walking and most with cycling.
• Your heavy breathing, (or sneezing or coughing) when walking, jogging or cycling will produce respiratory particles which will stay behind in the slip stream that you create.
• Anyone walking, jogging or cycling behind you but within your slip stream, would be inhaling these particles. Even if they held their breath, the respiratory particles you create could land
on their face, eyes or clothing and be a source of infection.
• Likewise, should you be walking, jogging or cycling in the opposite direction to other people, they will be entering your slip stream as you pass them
• The apparent length of the slip streams created are as follows
o Walking: 5 meters
o Jogging: 10 meters
o Cycling: 20 meters
(Note that the width of the slip stream and S half its length)
• These then should be your safe distances when you are outdoor exercising NOTE: Based on the above information it is suggested that you do not walk or jog or cycle in the same line as the person in front or behind you.
5. Apart from safe distancing while exercising please take note of the following
• Try not to touch public surfaces like railings and banisters or exercise equipment in parks. You can always do push-ups and sit-ups on the ground, and lift-ups from tree branches
• Always remember to wash your hands and use sanitizers as often as you can
• It is advised to wear a mask when going outdoors. You do not need a surgical mask- a reusable cloth mask should suffice. Bear in mind that you must practice safe distancing even when wearing a mask
6. CDC’s Guidelines on Safe Distancing should be followed.
a. Avoid In-person meetings and gatherings. Avoid shaking hands, hugging and touching each other. Stay at home.
b. Avoid public transportation. But if you must use public transport, avoid rush-hour commute.
c. Avoid having visitors in your home. Do not congregate in groups larger than 10 people. Limit contact with people outside of your household.
d. Avoid parties, concerts, cinemas, nightclubs, religious services, malls, retail stores and eat-in restaurants.
e. Avoid being within 6 feet of others
f. Avoid sharing utensils, drinking cups and glasses, dishes, towels and bedding.
g. Avoid unnecessary travel.
h. Avoid contact with those showing symptoms of COVID-19
i. Minimize frequent trips to pick up supplies. Stock up sufficiently till next purchase.
j. Take care when grocery shopping, getting take-home (ta pao), picking up medications and checking on friends and relatives. Wash hands frequently. Use sanitizers before and after each visit
k. Limit recreational activities to open parks, walks and bicycling. Avoid touching play or exercise equipment at parks and playgrounds.
l. If you are sick and need to go to your doctor, call first, so that precautions can be implemented.
m. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds with warm water frequently. Sanitize surfaces.
n. Cough or sneeze into your elbows or into a tissue that you can properly discard immediately.
o. Stay mentally healthy. Don’t completely isolate- use AI to stay connected; watch TV; listen to music; use the internet (Google etc)
p. Wear a mask when outdoors
Author: Dr. Saw Huat Seong
Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Credentials: MBBS (Malaya, Malaysia), FRACS (Gen Surg), FAMS (Thoracic Surg), FACC, FRCST (Hon)
Reference/ Sources: WHO, CDC Singapore, MOH Singapore, ICDC, Johns Hopkins, Wikipedia and independent experts.
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