This is the difference between self-isolating and social distancing - and what it means for you
Many people are confused over the difference between the two strategies designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
As Spring begins the days are getting longer and warmer, and people are getting the urge to venture outside of their homes after a harsh winter.
But amid the spread of coronavirus, many people are not sure whether it is safe for them to get out in the open air, or whether they have to stay inside.
Here is the difference between social distancing, and social isolating - and what it means for you.
Who needs to self isolate?
The government’s advice is that anyone who is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus - a dry cough, fever, or difficulty breathing - must self-isolate for a two week period.
Anyone classified as ‘vulnerable’ also has to self-isolate. This includes people over 70, as well as people with underlying conditions that could make the symptoms of coronavirus worse.
Unfortunately for these people, self-isolation means not leaving your house - making going walks outside or meeting friends an impossibility. But the government does say people who are self-isolating can keep windows open to get fresh air.
What’s social distancing?
The government is advising everyone who is not currently self-isolating to still practice social distancing.
This means not meeting with friends and family, staying away from crowded areas like bars and restaurants, avoiding all non-essential travel, and working from home where possible.
Luckily for these people, there is no restriction on going for walks outside. The government website actually encourages people to get plenty of exercise and fresh air.
“At times like these,” the website reads, “it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse.
Its only warning is not to get too close to other people when outside, asking walkers to stay at least two metres away from each other.
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Government adviceAs of Monday 16 March the government advised that everyone should be observing social distancing - avoiding unnecessary travel and working from home where possible. Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms now needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.
The government has also advised against going to the pub, out for dinner or partaking in any socialising with large groups. This has caused a number of closures across the country. Schools will close from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future and exams have been cancelled.
The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate.For more information on government advice, please check their website.
Should I avoid public places?The advice now is to avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.
What should I do if I feel unwell?Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS